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NEC RTLS-enables Its DECT Handsets

The company's Unified Solutions division is installing Ekahau software into its DECT phones, so that companies, schools and hospitals can locate their handsets in real time.
By Claire Swedberg
May 03, 2010NEC Unified Solutions, a division of NEC Corp. providing business telecommunications solutions, has begun integrating real-time locating system (RTLS) software from Ekahau to provide NEC's IP Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) mobile phones with location-tracking capabilities. With the new technology, if an individual carrying a DECT handset has an emergency, or if management needs to locate a worker who has such a device, Ekahau software can pinpoint its location. The system (which will be sold by NEC) includes a DECT handset and DECT wireless access points to receive telephony signals, as well as Ekahau's software that identifies a handset's location based on the strength of its signal as received by the access points. The system is commercially available now in European markets, says Robert van Amerongen, NEC Unified Solutions' manager of marketing communications.

DECT is a telecommunications standard commonly used in Europe, as well as in parts of Asia, Australia and South America. The standard enables communication between a portable unit, such as a cordless phone, and fixed receivers, using a segment of the 1880 MHz to 1930 MHz frequency band, depending on the region of the world in which the system is used. Businesses, universities and hospitals often utilize the standard to provide a voice communication network with mobile phones among their staff, similarly to how North American companies often use Wi-Fi for voice over IP (VoIP).

The G355-R, one of NEC's IP DECT handsets, comes with built-in Ekahau real-time location software.
NEC saw a need for location technology among its users, and began working last year with Ekahau, which offers RTLS solutions for devices that communicate over a Wi-Fi network. Without the RTLS technology, users of the NEC phone have little idea as to the handset's location, either when a call is being placed or when it is idle. There are a variety of reasons, however, why companies might want to track a handset's location—the primary being safety: If a security guard or other employee uses an RTLS-enabled DECT handset to place an emergency call, the company would not have to rely on that worker describing where he or she is located. There are other uses as well, including tracking an employee's general location within a large facility, such as at an industrial complex, a university campus or an event center (a football stadium, for instance), or locating a misplaced phone.

NEC's RTLS-enabled DECT system comes with Ekahau software built into the handset, NEC's IP DECT version 5.0 software, and NEC AP200 or AP300 Series access points to capture voice calls from the handsets. A server hosted by Ekahau receives data from the handset, and the Ekahau Positioning Engine V 4.6 software, running on that server, determines its location and issues related alerts to the users.

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