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2010.03.02

LTE Connected Car Project: Can it Bridge Concept with Reality?

Someday, all cars may be smart and connected. But today, it’s noteworthy indeed that ITU’s Fully Networked Car, and ng Connect’s LTE Connected Car are on display at two different major European tradeshows: the Geneva Auto Show and CeBIT.

Originated within Alcatel-Lucent’s innovation labs for 4G and LTE, ng Connect is a cross-industry confederation of brands that share a stake in the evolution of mobile computing and communications, including Toyota, Samsung, Gemalto, Kyocera and QNX Software Systems.

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The LTE Connected Car on display at CeBIT 2010 is not a competitive project to ITU’s Fully Networked Car. It is in fact part of a synchronous, deliberate effort worldwide that includes cooperation with ITU, ETSI, and other standards bodies, according to Uli Mohlmann, Director of ALU’s 4G/LTE Solutions Lab in Nuremburg.

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The entire ALU pavilion is connected through live LTE demo network, including the Toyota Prius that began drawing media analysts even before the show began. According to Mohlmann, operators such as Vodafone and Deutsch Telekom, already involved in smart car projects, and a wide array of Infotainment companies are lining up because they want into the concept, now.

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In addition to the driver's dashboard console that has become familiar to those who have shopped for a new vehicle in the last year, or those already own a hybrid vehicle, the LTE Connected Car features 4 integrated consoles, one for each passenger.

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The concept, of course, requires LTE to roll out in order for passenger vehicles to benefit from the complete array of services, which include lots of Audio and Video Infotainment options, safety and emergency services, navigation tools, and communication services that include voice, broadband mobile, and an on-board Wi-Fi connection for your portable device. A GPS module is mounted in the windshield, next to a camera that senses traffic conditions and road topology. But the central nervous system resides in a little black box, a modem that in this demo model sat casually on the floor in the trunk of the car and runs the on-board applications from the cloud.

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The tough questions for automotive telematics and communication services, however, lie ahead. As Mohlmann demonstrated the on-board services Tuesday morning, he agreed that the business models and product development required of operators is not fully defined.

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This challenge raises questions not just about the infrastructure, hardware, and software upgrades that may be necessary on Wide Area Networks, but also begs the question whether consumers, who may already purchase mobile phone, broadband internet, GPS services, and so on, will have options from a field of competitors. Will each automobile brand be associated with a specific telecom operator? Will network access be open?

The M2M Zone will enumerate these questions and seek answers from Mohlmann on Thursday here at CeBIT, where he will join a panel discussion, “Provisioning Location Awareness and Mobile Transactions.”

>> Click here for more information about the M2M Seminar at CeBIT 2010, Destination ITS.

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