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Jun 10, 2015

LTE: The next frontier for the connected car

Connected Car Tech

By Eran Eshed

(c)iStock.com/Gutzenberg

In an essay nearly 20 years ago, Bill Gates famously declared that “content is king”. Since that essay was published, if you had a nickel for every time you heard that phrase repeated you might own your own a private island by now. But overused as that saying may be, it rings true nonetheless.

In an increasingly mobile and digital culture, consumers now decide when and where they receive content rather than having it dictated to them by providers. As such, in many areas of business—from marketing to infotainment—unique content has become a precious commodity, and consumers have come to expect to receive it anywhere, any time.

Now that the connected car market is rapidly taking off – BI Intelligence predicts that 75 percent of all cars will connect to the Internet by 2020 – AT&T is making an exclusive content play in the space. The telecom giant has signed deals with eight automobile manufacturers, including GM and Ford, to provide content and gaming that is only available to passengers inside the vehicles in much the same way that some airlines do already. The exclusive content will be a differentiator for the automobile manufacturers and a new revenue stream for AT&T.

AT&T is still considering several different business models for this new offering, but any structure it develops will almost certainly include allowing consumers to purchase data from inside the vehicle and then download the content to a mobile device. The pay-for-data approach makes sense in the connected car market, as most of the Internet-enabled automobiles hitting the market now offer 4G LTE connectivity.

4G LTE works as a medium for delivering exclusive content to consumers in vehicles because of its capacity to transmit large quantities of data faster and more reliably than other wireless technologies, including 3G. Today, 4G LTE also offers low-cost connectivity, which has only become a reality over the past few years, thanks in large part to the development of new bleeding-edge LTE chipset solutions. These solutions are also making 4G LTE a reality in other sectors of the Internet of Things (IoT) where it was previously cost-prohibitive, including wearable devices, intelligent electricity meters, smart traffic lights, smart security alarms, and a variety of IoT consumer products.

Of course, integrating 4G LTE into vehicles has many practical applications as well. LTE connectivity allows a car to run self-diagnostics, for instance, can alert the driver to any maintenance requirements, and can enable value-added services like helping travelers find local restaurants or gas stations.

As connected cars grow more popular, it is safe to assume that additional content providers will consider partnering with automobile manufacturers in order to break into the exclusive content market. That will create more competition in the space and, ultimately, consumers will benefit most as they will be presented with a wide range of quality content options.

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