Connected Vehicle panel discusses telematics present and future at CTIA

A panel of key connected vehicle players met Wednesday during M2M Zone's exclusive conference at International CTIA Wireless in Orlando, Florida. Telematics, location-based services and the mobile web featured prominently in discussions between panelists Janet Schijns, VP Business Solutions Group at Verizon, Mike Ueland, Vice President and General Manager at Telit Wireless Solutions, and Alex Brisbourne, President of KORE Telematics. Moderator Sam Lucero, an M2M Connectivity analyst at ABI research, focused the discussion on societal and business benefits of connected vehicles, and the logistics of deployment and consumer adoption. Schjins described real-world telematics scenarios, including an incident in which her teenage daughter had been involved in a car accident. From this personal vantage point, she outlined potential benefits of M2M connectivity, including safety and cost-savings. She then gave predictions for the future of telematics, underlining Verizon's recommendations that address privacy concerns and those instances where controlled public access could prove beneficial, such as a passenger being able to turn down air conditioning in a taxi. Schijns also pointed out that fleet management applications, such as tracking and diagnostics for a trucking company, are creating a growth market that should offer business opportunity. "Trucks are a critical part of the economy," she said. "For those looking for M2M areas to penetrate, fleet management is one." Schijns said that Verizon's vision is to transform telematics services "to a level of almost augmented reality... to change the way you live, work and play through the power of your vehicle." Ueland, whose company makes about 50% of its business from aftermarket transportation/telematics applications, next discussed how the technology will penetrate the automobile industry. Ueland said telematics "represents the largest growth potential for M2M." He pointed out that while only about 5% of vehicles sold globally in 2009 were equipped with OEM telematic systems, "there's a huge amount of design activity in this space" and said "by model year 2013 or 2014, we're going to see some really exciting things." Ueland also addressed Usage Based Insurance (UBI), which allows auto insurance customers to receive a reduction in insurance rates based on their driving habits. Also known as Pay-as-You-Drive (PAYD) insurance, the potential benefits of UBI include cost reduction and societal benefits of safer roadways, according to Ueland. He showed a video from Progressive which outlined their UBI program, Snapshot. "It says something about our industry when we have M2M now in consumer announcements," Ueland said. KORE's Brisbourne offered additional insights for the audience, saying, "we've had two great presentations of the what ifs... I don't agree with a lot of things my colleagues have put up here, so we'll have a bit of lively debate." He outlined the various forms of connected vehicle, from consumer to regulated services to industrial telematics, and pointed out that even vending machines, which can be moved from one location to another, can make use of telematics. However, Brisbourne said, business adoption has to be driven by two reasons, and today only cost savings are fueling connected vehicle adoption. Over time, he said, the industry will move into how to make money and differentiate using the technology. Brisbourne continued by describing more challenges faced by the industry and explained that US adoption is slower than in some other countries where regulations have influenced broad adoption. His predictions for the future included "PSV adoption in USA will continue to lag market opportunity." An attendee who identified himself as an investor in the connected vehicle space asked panelists whether potential customers already have budget in place. Brisbourne described a "bottom-up adoption" in which the customer is initiating the sale, for example, "a fleet manager that is pulling a desire to get these things done." But he said the market was beginning to shift to a top-down model of adoption. Addressing concerns of continuing support for various standards, Brisbourne also said that the industry was being "disingenuous" in encouraging the use of 3G, since its days are numbered, and said that a better strategy would be to "eke out 2G on the way to 4G." Schjins said, "there's been press about our networks' end of life. We're going to extend the life of that network. We'll keep our commitments in the marketplace." While the audience offered up a variety of questions for the panel of experts, it could be characterized by the attendee from a major mobility equipment and solutions provider (who could not go on record) who mentioned that his company did not yet have a connected vehicle strategy in place, but was working on developing one.

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