Breaking News
News & Analysis

LTE Built-In GM Cars: No Smartphones Required

GM Partners with AT&T; Qualcomm Goes for 20nm LTE-A Chips
2/25/2014 11:15 AM EST
24 comments
Page 1 / 2 Next >
More Related Links
View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
MeasurementBlues
User Rank
Blogger
Re: A bad idea all around
MeasurementBlues   3/3/2014 12:40:33 AM
NO RATINGS
@Bert "I'd sooner have a single cellular standard, and have the ability to buy any phone I please, not those offered by just a particular cellular carrier."

Ever hear of an unlocked phone?

I always buy unlocked phones. I have two iPhones and a Samsung in my house. Bought them all unlocked through eBay. All are a generation behind but it's a lot less expensive that buying a new unlocked phone.

Bert22306
User Rank
CEO
Re: A bad idea all around
Bert22306   2/28/2014 3:32:11 PM
NO RATINGS
Etmax, no particular wisdom at all, in promoting the existence of walled gardens. It was done by the FCC in the name of "innovation." I'd sooner have a single cellular standard, and have the ability to buy any phone I please, not those offered by just a particular cellular carrier.

I'm just saying that things being as they are, in the US, what GM is doing with OnStar is not really a problem. There's nothing nefarious about it, or even unusual. You can opt in or opt out, you can use it for only those features you want and not others, and you can use your smartphone as well.

I guess the other point is that 4G changes nothing wrt OnStar, other than adding more features to a feature set that has been growing ever since 1995.

This hype about calling a car a smartphone is what causes all the confusion. It's not a smartphone. It is merely a another platform that can make good use of the cellular infrastructure, saddled with having to pick a carrier because the FCC allowed US cellular communications to become a gaggle of walled gardens.

JeffL_2
User Rank
CEO
Re: A bad idea all around
JeffL_2   2/28/2014 10:33:25 AM
NO RATINGS
Etmax, you're not even asking the right question, I have ZERO intention of setting aside money for several years in order to buy "a hotspot with four wheels and an engine", what I'm trying to purchase is practical, economical AND SAFE transportation, I frankly have just about ZERO interest in whether it has a cellular modem or in fact connectivity of any kind (besides maybe the dashboard radio)! The premise "alright YOU bought a car, you NEED connectivity in order to accomplish GM's (or any other corporation's) stated goals of warranty service" not only doesn't justify my purchase of a data plan, I believe it actually tends to work AGAINST my need for safe transportation. Let me explain.

Do you remember what smartphones were like before the advent of Apple's iPhone? Carriers claimed to offer "web browsers" and all manner of other "features" like "game services" but in the end the environment you were placed in was more or less a "walled garden" in which you were continuously bombarded with ads for additional cellular services or subscriptions that would allow you to play overpriced games or listen to a limited selection of music. You could only "browse" to sites that did NOT offer services that competed with the paltry, high-profit offerings of your carrier. People bought them like crazy because it still seemed borderline miraculous connectivity of a "PC in your pocket" - but then Apple came in and demanded that if they were going to offer their phones to a carrier the walls of that garden had to come down PRONTO, and we finally get a good look at the REAL World Wide Web from our smartphones. But it's not as if the former situation was in any way a surprise, when you give a large corporation the opportunity to make outsize profits, you can be sure they'll take it.

So the first issue is we have to be cautious that by allowing high-speed cellular modems to be installed in new vehicles, we aren't inviting the "walled gardens" right back in our lives. Yes you want to buy that fancy Cadillac Escalade, but then you want to listen to music on it? You can get anything out of the GM "greatest hits" library, you just have to authorize the download for $0.99, same thing for games or anything else. Oh you complain they're nickel-and-diming you to death? Go look at your other luxury brands, they'll be as bad or worse, if you're willing to pay that much for a vehicle the manufacturer is betting they can get you to let go of an extra buck or two here and there. Want to listen to your music collection in the cloud? Oh access to THAT (directly or through your smartphone) is either a special subscription service too, or requires downloading an app from the special GM app store, and on and on it goes, just like trying to buy a sandwich on a budget airline. (Now you know why Apple and Tesla are having advanced talks, I wouldn't want to spoil anything here...)

But what I'm REALLY concerned about is the safety - or better put, the LACK of it - in terms of on-the-road vehicle firmware. Traditionally auto OEMs found themselves to be "highly motivated" to get any new firmware in their new car models thoroughly reviewed for safety issues before the new model release, because once the circuit boards were placed in the vehicle (for the most part) they'd need to be R&R'ed before the firmware inside them could be updated, and they wouldn't want to unnecessarily bear that expense. What we're embarking on is a situation where potentially this firmware could be updated AT ANY TIME, and perhaps without either the awareness or consent of either the vehicle owner or driver - that's the LAST thing I want to allow them to do with my car, and I've NEVER had to worry about this before! Now the "incentive" for them to "get it right the first time" could either be compromised or REMOVED COMPLETELY - uh-oh! My specialty is testing and certification of firmware for commercial avionics according to the standards approved by the FAA. Now in their system in order for a plane to get of the ground there's a book that contains ALL the "approvals" (they're called TCs and STCs) for ALL the "technical details" on the aircraft, which certainly includes the firmware releases in all the avionics and so forth. We don't yet have a "model" for this for land vehicles but we know that these matters are handled by NHTSA, NOT the FAA, and given their "track record" on automotive safety (like the Toyota accelerator situation) I'm not too impressed so far. I personally think this issue needs to be thought about LONG AND HARD before we let almost every car in the country become a "safety beta site" - yikes!

Overall, though, I guess a cellular modem in my vehicle doesn't "guarantee" me any more of a "right to privacy" than I have on my regular cellphone. But that doesn't mean that I have to be entirely happy about the "status quo" in EITHER circumstance!

Etmax
User Rank
Rookie
Re: A bad idea all around
Etmax   2/28/2014 9:44:35 AM
NO RATINGS
Bert, a little off topic here (apologise for that) but I really have to ask what the wisdom is in having a whole bunch of carriers with different standards spread out all over the country such that depending on where you live and who you sign up with you can't make a phone call from your own house, or you go to another part of the country and can't call home. All these carriers build base stations where they think they will attract customers and there might be 5 in one popular location and none in a slightly less popular location and all for a system that is supposed to allow mobile communications.

I would have thought it would make far more economic sense to have a communications authority that decides what spectrum and and method (cdma, 3G, 4G, GSM) will be used and then that authority rolls out the infrastructure everywhere and everyone's carrier pays for their customers usage of bandwidth/airtime and you don't have this expensive incompatible duplication and sometimes total lack of infrastructure for what is essentially a key enabler for every aspect of the economy.

Some might say "can't be done" but effectively this is the transmission side of the network only, and power transmission is already effectively shared between competing power providers, I mean if you decide to want xyz's electricity instead of abc's, it still comes over the same wires.

This way everyone would have the service quality that should be expected for likely a fraction of the cost. Also there would be more competition because you could go to any carrier and still use the same phone and get the same call quality.

Etmax
User Rank
Rookie
Re: A bad idea all around
Etmax   2/28/2014 9:18:44 AM
NO RATINGS
Well basically yes, what did you think? Buying a car gives you a right to privacy?

Etmax
User Rank
Rookie
Re: GM selects my carrier
Etmax   2/28/2014 9:15:11 AM
NO RATINGS
I think this thing of having an account for your smart phone, tablet, car, microwave oven, refrigerator (just kidding about the last 2) is ridiculous.

I have a tablet with 3G but wish I didn't, and when the contract runs out I'm only going to have one 3G/4G plan on my phone and use it as a hotspot for everything else.

All that seems to happen is that you have to pre-purchase enough Gigabytes for every device even though you only ever use one or the other.

They tried to sell me a 4G modem for my laptop too, but no I just hotspot to my phone, and if I find I need that functionality in my car I'll do the same, the only thing that won't work is vehicle tracking after theft and really because I haven't bought a high priced foreign vehicle I'll likely never need it anyway.

So to sum up my point, I think having a fully connected smart phone as a hotspot for everything else is a least cost option with optimal functionality. It even has the advantage that if someone borrows my car they can't run up my data bill :-)

If 5G comes along I'll upgrade my phone and everything is automatically 5G (no visit to the GM show room or buying a new tablet as well)

Kinnar
User Rank
CEO
Re: GM selects my carrier
Kinnar   2/27/2014 2:16:49 PM
NO RATINGS
Yes you are right there are always that kind of threats of being monitored by the third party, and bugs in their software will make us vulnerable.

wilber_xbox
User Rank
Manager
Re: GM selects my carrier
wilber_xbox   2/27/2014 12:36:09 PM
NO RATINGS
I am thinking of this step as another dimension for customer data collection. Until now the data was only related to social media or what you used to share intentionally or unintentionally through your smartphone which you carry around. Now there is another interface or touchpoint to know about your activity on the road. Whatever diagnostics that you want to run on the car may not be as advance as the ones already in aeroplanes so in that sense not much needs to be done for putting the algorithms in the car chip.

Kinnar
User Rank
CEO
Re: GM selects my carrier
Kinnar   2/27/2014 5:22:33 AM
NO RATINGS
Simply speaking the initiative is nothing more than just putting a mobile phone inside a car. The only additional feature the Qualcomm chipset offering is DSRC (Dedicated Short Range Communication).

If you say that a mobile phone is embedded in the car then this can be said a good initiative by GM, but if you say that this is going to be a technology upgraded car, then it will be a very immature step of GM using and implanting a yet to standardized and still under research protocols inside a car. This will simply let the people suffer with the things inside car after few months, as it is a yet to develop standard and technology. Even one can not say that use of DSRC this way will be the best implentation of it.

LarryM99
User Rank
CEO
Re: A bad idea all around
LarryM99   2/26/2014 6:18:27 PM
I'm not so sure that 'Orwellian' really describes it. The threat there was Big Brother, while what we are facing here sometimes more resembles a whole family of brothers that are fighting to see who is going to be in charge. I have no faith that a car company can effectively run a general-purpose data service network, but that doesn't stop them from wanting to be the next Comcast, who wants to be the next Google, who wants to take out Facebook, and on and on. This type of vertical integration is just another weapon in that war.

Page 1 / 3   >   >>
Radio
NEXT UPCOMING BROADCAST
How to Cope with a Burpy Comet
October 17, 2pm EDT Friday
EE Times Editorial Director Karen Field interviews Andrea Accomazzo, Flight Director for the Rosetta Spacecraft.
August Cartoon Caption Winner!
August Cartoon Caption Winner!
"All the King's horses and all the KIng's men gave up on Humpty, so they handed the problem off to Engineering."
5 comments
Top Comments of the Week
Like Us on Facebook

Datasheets.com Parts Search

185 million searchable parts
(please enter a part number or hit search to begin)
EE Times on Twitter
EE Times Twitter Feed
Flash Poll