A while ago I speculated that the Nokia N95, might be using a A-GPS solution, now with the V12 firmware release available for unlocked phones from Nokia A-GPS really is supported and it does seem to make a difference.
There is a lot of confusion on the blogs and discussion groups as to what A-GPS, assisted GPS is, and how it works. This is a technology that is indepedent of network operators and does not use the location of Cell towers.
A-GPS works by supplementing the performance of the “not very good” GPS chipset on the N95 with an assistance server operated by Nokia. The assistance server knows the up to date ephemeris data of the GPS constellation and can help process whatever weak signal the phone is picking up and pass a possible location back to the phone.
This in theory and to some extent in practice means that the time to first location is reduced and you can expect to get a location in some areas where without A-GPS it would not be possible.
So how do you set it up and how can you tell it’s working… This is more informed speculation… some definitive information from Nokia would be good !!!
First you need to be brave and upgrade you firmware, after backing up everything on your N95, I still find this a little scary – a bit like a heart transplant operation for your phone..
With the V12 firmware you will find you have a new menu at – Tools>Settings>General>Positioning.
Here there are two sub-menus, Positioning Methods with the new option on Assisted GPS, which you need to enable and a sub menu called Positioning Server which contains the details for the assistance server. Here you will find the Nokia server already listed as supl.nokia.com , but you will need to manually enter an existing network access point to allow network access to the server, for me I used the Vodafone WAP APN on which I get vodafone’s new “unlimited” data tariff. You will need to enter your networks own APN here, I guess a Wifi access point should work just as well, but I have not tried.
Go to the Maps application or GPS Data tool and select the View Satellite Status menu, you should now more quickly than in the past see the familiar list of GPS satellite numbers and the open estimated signal strength bars – this is now coming from the assistance server and within a minute at least three of these will turn solid and you will have a location.
This has just worked for me on the window sill of a hotel room in the centre of Manchester giving a location in around 50 seconds !!!
I have been wrong about this in the past, but this seems to be progress !!
Written and submitted from the Novotel Manchester, using the Orange 802.11 network.