A number of mobile-related blogs and message boards are starting to pick up on a story that based on an internal memo, in the coming weeks, Bell will begin to interfere with the GPS signal that late-model Blackberry units (including the 8830, 8130 Pearl and 8330 Curve) receive.
Users of free GPS mapping applications (such as Google Maps or even the included Blackberry Maps application by RIM) will see the time required to establish a GPS lock increase to 2-10 minutes, up from the typical 15-20 seconds usually experienced. Additionally, there is some speculation that the resolution of GPS data will also be reduced to a 1-2.5km range as opposed to the existing 10-25m accuracy currently provided — not exactly useful when trying to find the location for your next meeting downtown in an unfamiliar city.
Of course, the existing level of service for GPS data can continue to be received, provided subscribers start to pay upwards of $10 a month to gain access to Bell’s own GPS service (“GPS Nav”). The memo apparently includes statements such as “high quality locates are only available by using GPS NAv”. This is all but guaranteed when you rig the system such that no other application (free or otherwise) has equal access to the freely-available GPS signals floating through the air. Then again, Verizon in the USA apparently fully blocks access to GPS signals from 3rd party applications on their device allowing only their own subscription service to be used rather than just degrading the quality of data.
Yet another phase in Cope’s plan to right the ship? (See George Cope has a plan to fix Ma Bell September 10 2008)
(disclosure: I own shares in BCE)