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OPINION: Your car, your way

Stevan Hoyle | Aug. 3, 2011
The automotive market looks set to take off as organisations realise the untapped potential of machine-to-machine technology.

Moving forward, collaboration between car manufacturers and telecom developers will give rise to the development of new telematics services, including customer-oriented telematics business models. M2M systems can streamline traffic flow, increase gas mileage and even reduce emissions.

From an eco-friendly perspective, as Singapore decides to drive the research and development (R&D) of electric vehicles (EV), we can expect a similar rise in M2M technology suitable for EVs. Interestingly, some top global auto manufacturers have showed interest in participating in such R&D programmes to consider the prospects of a system that scouts for electrical charging ports, reports on the status of the battery, distance left before a complete drain, all in a single mobile platform.

M2M: Challenges and Opportunities

Without doubt, the potential of M2M technology in the automotive sector is vast. By using M2M communications in conjunction with satellite-based GPS units and location-based service companies, car manufacturers expand the benefits of real-time information to drivers. The data provided can include vehicle location, usage and maintenance alerts. Yet the availability of enhanced automatic navigation aids such as personalised maps, provision of in-car Internet services, personalised radio and other entertainment applications is merely the beginning.

Most M2M wireless applications are mission-critical, supporting vital services such as emergency response and security.  Quite simply, they cannot fail. 

Equally, M2M solutions are typically determined by the target application and industry. As a result, providers must understand and utilise the tools, technologies and best practices used to achieve the best connectivity solution. This presents developers of M2M projects with a two-fold challenge. They must address the technical issues for each part of the chain and at the same time, they need to ensure that the whole solution functions properly. 

Partnering with an M2M solutions provider that has proven global deployment expertise will help directly overcome these issues in creating a tailored and scalable solution. This will also speed time to market, critical in the face of tough competitive pressures and compliance deadlines. 

From the car manufacturer' standpoint, there are a number of essential elements which must form part of any best-practice M2M communications solution. At the top of the list here are two 'must haves': firstly, the need for a truly global response; and secondly, working with a connectivity provider that can demonstrate a thorough understanding of the challenges and demands of the automotive sector.    

Why are these so important?

  • Global SIM: As the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) is mounted in the car during the production stage, a global SIM is essential. This must behave seamlessly like a local SIM as the vehicle travels from country to country and network to network. This is because the global SIM can overcome communications barriers between countries and networks, working even when one travels between Singapore and Malaysia. The SIM must also be robust, shockproof and able to withstand extremes of temperature typically experienced in an automotive environment.
  • Data growth: The inherent mobility of the installation also requires truly global network availability. This must also be able to accommodate the anticipated explosion in data volumes associated with such applications and deliver the highest possible service level agreement (SLA).
  • Cost control: In removing any logistical concerns, the availability of competitive pricing packages must address any pricing concerns over the cost of roaming.
  • Integration: Any communications solution should be based on a unified platform that enables the M2M technology to be integrated easily with any automotive manufacturer's telematics system.
  • Support: The communications provider must be able to support the solution by providing consistent services, support and account management on a local, regional and global scale. 


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