OVERLAND PARK, Kan. ? 08/10/2006 Just in time for back to school, Sprint (NYSE: S) has enhanced its child-locating service, Sprint Family Locator, making it available to more families and simplifying the registration process. Sprint also offers a phone with built-in parental controls and a new Web access management feature to help parents limit their children's access to only the phone services they deem appropriate.
"Sprint is giving families the power to stay connected as life demands take them in different directions," said Danny Bowman, vice president of product marketing for Sprint. "Sprint offers a variety of 'family friendly' tools that help parents manage their children's wireless phone usage. And, as the leading innovator that offers a comprehensive suite of communication services, Sprint is committed to enhancing and expanding these tools to better meet family needs."
Family Locator using GPS
Sprint Family Locator is a location-based service that uses Sprint's state-of-the-art GPS technology to enable a parent to use a phone or PC to locate a child on a map. The service also gives the address, surrounding landmarks and accuracy of the child's location within a specified radius.
The registration process for Sprint Family Locator has been simplified, so that all steps for the parent are completed online. The service is still permission-based, requiring the parent and child to use a unique safety word during registration to ensure permissions have been granted by both parties.
Sprint is giving the power of Sprint Family Locator to more people by providing parents with a PC-only option for locating a child. For those who also want to download the application on a mobile phone, Sprint has expanded the number of compatible parent phones from 17 to 30. The number of locatable child phones has also expanded from 30 to 58 - that's substantially more phones than any other carrier with a similar service.
Phone with parental controls
One of the many locatable child phones includes the Sprint PCS Vision® Phone 2400 by Sanyo®. The built-in parental controls on the SCP-2400 by Sanyo allow parents to restrict incoming and outgoing direct-dial calls and limits access to services such as the Web and Sprint PCS Ready Link® walkie-talkie style service. The phone is available through all Sprint retail channels.
"Sprint Family Locator is a valuable tool that many parents are using to get a better sense of their children's whereabouts when they're apart," Bowman said. "We've listened to our customers and have made improvements that make it faster and easier to register for the application and make it accessible to any parent with Internet access on a PC, regardless of which Sprint or Nextel phone they carry."
A recent U.S. consumer survey commissioned by Sprint found that 54 percent of consumers are interested in using GPS on a mobile phone to locate family members.
Web Access manages Internet access
Sprint is also introducing a Restricted/Unrestricted Web Access feature that gives a parent the power to manage access to the open Internet for all plans on the account. Web Access is free of charge and is available on all phones and all service plans. Using My Account on the phone or My Personal Information in the manage tab from the online account, the parent can restrict phone access to Sprint PCS Vision and certain Internet sites that Sprint has deemed appropriate for all ages.
"It is encouraging to see that the wireless industry is providing services that can be important tools for parents and have the potential to increase their peace of mind," said Ken Hyers, principal analyst at ABI Research. "It's important, though, for parents to remember that tools such as family locating services are not a replacement for parental supervision and that these services do have limitations."
Sprint Nextel has the longest history in the industry with location-based services, beginning in 2000 with location and mobility services, the first GPS-enabled phone to support E911 services in 2001, and the first navigation service on mobile phones with turn-by-turn voice-guided driving directions in 2003. Sprint Nextel continues its leadership in location-based services by offering the largest portfolio of wireless mobility solutions for enterprise, general business and consumers. The consumer applications include turn-by-turn directions and point-of-interest and specialty applications such as Garmin Mobile, TeleNav, Sprint Family Locator, MapQuest Find Me, Rand McNally Mobile Travel Tools, Trimble Outdoors and.BiM Active. Frost & Sullivan recognized Sprint Nextel with the 2005 Company of the Year Award in Location Based Services for excellence in successfully deploying and delivering location services and solutions.