What role do telecoms providers play in the development of the connected car?


The future of the connected car is going to have many services that rely on the quality of the connection within the vehicle. Telecoms providers therefore need to make connectivity simple, reliable and most importantly, available.

JC&C Bowers, Pangea’s strategic partner and service provider in the automotive space, knows all too well of the opportunity and importance of telecoms providers to the connected car.

As JC&C’s CEO, John Bowers, explains: “It’s clear that digital convergence is going to play a huge role in the automotive industry in the next 5-10 years. It’s quite possible for this to progress way beyond that, if the promise of full autonomy is to be delivered on.

“As with most digital convergence opportunities, the telecommunications industry will continue to play a leading role as it has already been doing for some time. Despite the perceived infancy within this connected car ecosystem, the telecoms providers have been working on this convergence for a long time. In one instance, Vodafone have been working on eCall compliance for over 12 years now.

“The industry is already beginning to integrate basic ‘connected’ functionalities directly into the vehicle’s internal infrastructure, and the carrier networks have played an intrinsic role in getting us to this point. It is the carrier networks that have been working with the vehicle manufacturers to embed machine to machine (M2M) sim cards directly into the vehicles, as well as working with GPS service providers to provide the satellite communication capabilities which we’ve all come to adopt in the form of sat nav. Furthermore, it is the telecoms providers that have enabled the insurance industry to offer premium discounts on driving behavior by way of real-time M2M data capture.

“The connected car is merely the amalgamation of this functionality rolled into a unified proposition, but to what extent do the telecoms providers get involved? Some will opt to try to deliver the unified connected-car, while others will focus within their core competencies – which might be the smart bet,” adds Bowers. “How it all unfolds is going to be interesting, and I suspect that a number of the big players will not be the ones to come out on top.”

Networks play a huge role in the quality needed to make the connected car not only a further success, but also a safe and reliable area of growth. The importance of multi-network capability, low latency, and transparent control is a vital piece for the connected car market.

Regarding the specific requirements of the telecoms provider in the connected car space, Bowers adds: “With so many electronic components, sensors, measurements, and transactions occurring continuously within a vehicle, the telecoms providers need to develop supporting LTE technology that is going to mitigate the potential for failure, packet loss and/or delayed responses. Failure simply isn’t an option when a 2-ton vehicle is driving down a motorway at 70 miles per Hour. The whole system, simply must work to avoid fatality. Therefore, connected service providers like us here at JC&C Bowers, the vehicle manufacturers, the independent aftermarket and the insurers are looking firmly in the direction of the telecoms providers for guidance, support and leadership. Regardless of whether cars are headed to autonomy, semi-autonomy, and/or fully connected, it’s apparent to me that the telecoms providers are and will remain an intrinsic part of the rise of this industry.”

The connected car market is clearly growing; however, what is more important is the opportunity around this ecosystem for the various verticals it can support. From both the connectivity and solutions perspective, having the right partners is important for wider delivery in this market.

With contributions from John Bowers, CEO of JC&C Bowers Holdings Ltd

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