Smartphones are no longer the only platform hotly pursued by cellular operators eager to boost their revenue. Now, it’s cars.
Many network service operators see automobiles as their next big growth opportunity.
Automakers, also seeing dollar signs in this scenario, are hyping their cars as “smartphones on wheels.”
Meanwhile, Qualcomm, the only semiconductor supplier of LTE chipsets for the automotive market, is ratcheting up its automotive LTE efforts by rolling out what the company calls “the world’s first commercial 20nm LTE-Advanced chip set for automotive.” Qualcomm’s LTE-Advanced chipset, designated Gobi 9x30, supports “LTE FDD/ TDD Advanced Category 6 with up to 40 MHz Carrier Aggregation and Up To 300 Mbps Downlink,” according to the company.
At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, General Motors announced Monday that it would go long and wide in deploying 4G LTE services across their vehicles. GM will integrate the built-in 4G LTE structure into the vehicle’s electrical system and include an external antenna to maximize coverage and connectivity.
For the North American market, GM selected AT&T as its partner. The two companies laid out their plan to wirelessly deliver an enhanced suite of safety, security, diagnostic and infotainment services to most Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac vehicles, beginning in 2014 in the United States and Canada.
Touting a 4G LTE modem module to be built into the car, GM stressed in a press release, “Customers will not be required to have a smartphone to use connected services.”
GM envisions the initial usage for its built-in LTE modem will be delivering fast, reliable connectivity to GM’s telematics services, OnStar, as well as fast connection to in-vehicle devices for data and infotainment applications.
Over time, carmakers see connectivity use growing well beyond such telematics and infotainment applications.
Emerging on the horizon is the use of an LTE modem to interact with the environment the vehicle, to enhance safety, efficiency, and convenience for drivers and passengers. 4G LTE appears destined to become integral to vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) or vehicle-to-infrastrcture (V2I) future. GM talked about future services such as real-time traffic and navigation updates that pull information from the cloud.
According to IHS Automotive, the current embedded modem market is still mostly 2.5G since the vast majority of telematics systems operate their services at a low data-rate.
However, the telematics industry today is migrating from 2.5G directly to LTE, mostly by skipping 3G, according to Egil Juliussen, principal analyst, infotainment and ADAS market, at IHS Automotive.
Car OEMs are looking at LTE, said Juliussen, because they want to future-proof their connected car technology. Their motivation is not necessarily the bandwidth, he added.
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