Technology Helps Wireless Operators Compete in Beacon, Retail Intelligence Market

ip.access, a UK-based provider of small cell technology has entered the market of micro-location and retail intelligence with presenceCell, a solution to be implemented by wireless operators.

Instead of relying on “over-the-top“ smartphone technologies such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, presenceCell leverages the SIM card data of mobile phone to identify the presence of consumers at a specific place.

“Unlike other solutions on the market presenCell doesn’t require visitors to have bluetooth or Wi-Fi switched on, or an app, or even to have a smartphone,“ explained Gavin Ray, senior vice president of product and marketing at ip.access in a discussion with GPS Business News at the Location Based Services Conference recently held in London.

The proximity detection is performed by a small device that mimics a network and identify the SIM card of subscribers. Depending on the needs the detection can be implemented in a perimeter of five to ten meters, or even a bit less.

The technology – that requires the opt-in of the mobile subscriber – can be used for various cases. First this technology might be used as a pure retail analytics solution that measures the presence in-store. The interesting thing here is that the operator managing the solution also has a wealth of data about its subscribers: demographics, home address area, etc., so the in-store analytics can be enriched with a lot of (anonymous) data about the visitorship that goes well beyond a “blind“ analytics solution.

But presenceCell can also be used as a one to one marketing tool much like iBeacon, for example sending a text message to a subscriber about a promotion when he enters the store.

Another UK company, Path Intelligence, also uses cellular signal to determine footfall at retailers, however their solution is fully independent from wireless operator, there is no possibility to get additional demographic data about this visitor or even to send an opt-in message. In working with wireless operators presenceCell can go beyond that level of intelligence.

presenCell is already used by Vodafone Turkey and two other – unnamed – operators, one in the United Kingdom and the other in Spain.

“presenceCell offers a new opportunity to wireless operators to monetize their network,“ concluded Gavin Ray.

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