The next generation of smartphones and mobile devices could be far quicker to lock onto their physical location for mapping and LBS, with the news that big-name chipset manufacturers are adding Glonass support to their upcoming products. ST-Ericsson and Broadcom both support Glonass – the Russian-installed rival to GPS – in their new location chips, and Qualcomm has confirmed it will add support for the system in its 28nm integrated GPS offerings.
In development since 1976, and with the first satellites installed in October 1982, Glonass was completed in 1995 but subsequently fell into disrepair. Since then, the Russian space agency has shunted a huge amount of its budget – one-third in 2010 – to restoring Glonass, with full global coverage expected to be achieved later this year.
Accordingly, the Russian government now apparently mandates that devices on sale in the country must also support Glonass if they offer GPS functionality. Whether handsets and gadgets on sale outside of Russia will do the same remains to be seen, though the upside for the consumer would be faster fix times and boosted performance in urban canyons.