Chips and Salsa XV: Disparately Seeking Satellites

Chips and Salsa XV: Disparately Seeking Satellites

A-GPS benchmark study of leading platforms and smartphones

09/13/2012 | 52 pages
Price: $1,295.00

In order to pull off this highly-differentiated study we collaborated with Spirent Communications to get access to their widely-regarded 8100 Location Technology platform and engineering support in order to obtain highly objective results. In total, we include results for five different A-GNSS chipset suppliers (Broadcom, CSR, Qualcomm, ST-Ericsson and Texas Instruments) and ten different smartphone/chipset configurations, including smartphones from HTC, Nokia, Samsung, and Sony.


  • Very Consistent Platform Performance. The performance of the vendor-supplied A-GNSS platforms is largely comparable, based on the key performance indicators that we used. By itself, this finding isn’t altogether interesting, but it is highly relevant given the OTA results.
  • Dramatic A-GPS Performance Differences Exist in Smartphones. Shockingly, there is an 11.8 dB difference in the receive sensitivity of the best performing smartphones from Nokia and Samsung and the worst performing smartphone that we tested.
  • A Protective Case can Severely Degrade A-GNSS Performance. When we tested one of the smartphones with a protective case, the receive sensitivity dropped by a factor of more than six (8.2 dB). For all practical purposes, we conclude that the phone’s A-GPS solution is unusable.
  • It is Time for an Industry Wake-up Call. Given the importance of LBS and the stringent E911 mandate in the US (less strict requirements elsewhere), operators may need to reconsider how they conduct handset acceptance testing. They should, for example, determine the incremental impact that a protective case can have on the A-GNSS capabilities of the handset.
  • A-GLONASS can Meaningfully Improve Geo Location Capabilities. Based on preliminary test results, we observed a meaningful improvement in the A-GNSS capabilities of an A-GNSS platform that has integrated support for A-GPS and A-GLONASS. The impact should start being realized in the next 6-12 months as operators rollout out support for this capability in their networks.