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Nokia invests in GPS firm

The cellular phone giant makes a $3 million investment in SiRF Technology, a developer of global positioning system technology.

SiRF Technology, a developer of global positioning system technology, today announced a strategic alliance with cellular phone giant Nokia, which has made a $3 million investment in the company.

Nokia was awarded an observer seat on SiRF's board of directors after investing in the company during SiRf's new round of financing.

Global positioning system technology has a high potential for a number of wireless communications applications, including the Federal Communications Commission's Enhanced 911 mandate that calls for cellular carriers to be able to identify the position of emergency callers within 410 feet so that 911 operators can locate them. The FCC wants two-third of all cellular phones to be equipped with GPS by the 2001.

"We believe that the combination of GPS and wireless technologies provides the largest market opportunity for GPS," SiRF founder and vice president of marketing Kanwar Chadha said in a statement announcing the investment. "We are seeing strong demand from telecommunications suppliers to be ready in time for the FCC's E911 deadline at the end of the year 2001."

Santa Clara, California-based SiRf introduced a chipset and software package in October, 1997, that pinpoints location on consumer applications. The company says it requires low power, has a small footprint, and is low cost. The company was founded in 1995.

"Market forces couldn't be more positive for GPS," Will Strauss, analyst at Forward Concepts, said in a statement. "There are currently more than 170 million wireless handsets in use and growing to over 500 million by 2001."

Strauss called the GPS "must have" technology for wireless companies.