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In-vehicle connected services ride the LTE wave

Posted: 05 Dec 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:in-vehicle  LTE  2G  3G 

LTE mobile broadband connected systems with greater range and connection speeds 100x faster than today's 2/3G data services, is set to bring in a wave of next-generation in-vehicle applications with the rapidly accelerating deployment of LTE (long term evolution) networks.

Auto manufacturers recognise that LTE is the future of mobile connectivity, and many are already planning LTE-equipped vehicles for as soon as 2014.

From an engineering perspective, however, LTE presents some significant challenges. To design an effective LTE-connected car system, you need to understand where LTE networks are today, where they're going, and what attributes in-car systems should have to bridge that gap.

The promise of LTE
With the ability to connect cars over LTE networks—effectively, the ability to bring wireline broadband speeds to the automobile—a wide range of new applications become available in the vehicle. Services like Internet-streamed video, music, and even video conferencing (used from the passenger or rear seat, of course) will likely be the first examples that spring to mind.

These applications will benefit not just from the supercharged capacity and range of LTE, but from the much lower latency of LTE systems (latency often being the most critical factor in delivering a high quality-of-experience to the user). But the potential for LTE-connected car applications goes beyond entertainment and communications.

For example, superfast vehicle-to-vehicle communications could enable new safety services, such as the ability to stream video of road conditions recorded from other vehicles in real time, or receive alerts when cars up ahead of you slam on their brakes. In theory, the LTE-connected car could become a portal for all sorts of new applications and services—much like the iPhone transformed the mobile phone, and spawned previously unthinkable mobile services and business models.

These and other possibilities are generating tremendous excitement across the industry. But how close are we to actually realising the potential of LTE-connected applications? Some important barriers remain.

Operating in real-world vehicles
The biggest obstacle is the fact that it will be a while before LTE coverage catches up with LTE devices and applications. Operators around the world are busy deploying LTE networks; according to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA, complimentary registration required), 237 operators in 85 countries are now investing in LTE technology, making it the fastest-growing mobile system rollout in the history of the industry. But for the most part, these networks are still in early stages of development.

 HSPA-LTE Timeline

Figure 1: HSPA-LTE Timeline to 2014.


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