Sprint Nextel launched on Thursday the first wireless service in the U.S. to help parents find their children with a Global Positioning System technology (GPS).
The service allows parents to look at maps from their cellphones or computers and locate their children who carry mobile phones. Parents can also program the service to automatically send them text messages at specific times each day to confirm that their children have arrived at home or in school for instance.
Sprint's Family Locator
service aims to bring in revenue from an existing location technology that all mobile carriers are required by law to put into cellphones so that safety workers can position 911 emergency service callers.
Sprint's service shows data such as street addresses to which a child is close and the estimated accuracy of the readind can range from a distance of 2 yards around the child to a radius of hundreds of yards. It also notifies children via text message that their parents have checked up on their location.
The launch of this new tracking service on mobile phones follows last week's announcement by entertainment giant Walt Disney for a location service for mobile phones offering similar to Sprint's system. Disney is currently renting space on Sprint's network to sell services under its own brand.
The Disney service
, which launches in June, also lets parents track their children using GPS technology and additionally lets them set limits to control the usage off their cellphone.
Disney has not said how much it will charge for this feature, aside from promising competitive prices.
Sprint Family Locator is already available for download on 17 phone models and can be used to locate 30 GPS-enabled phone models on the Nationwide Sprint PCS Network and the Nextel National Network. For $9.99 per month, subscribers can register up to four phones to locate, get unlimited location requests and send 100 text messages to each child phone.
The service is available at Family Locator
Sprint Nextel's history in the industry with location-based services started in 2000 with location and mobility services, the first GPS-enabled phone to support 911 services in 2001 and the first navigation service on mobile phones with turn-by-turn voice-guided driving directions in 2003. Sprint Nextel is the third mobile service in the U.S.