RAC picks “4G pioneer” EE for telematics service

The 4G lead established by the UK’s EE has helped the operator secure a three-year deal to support telematics services for the RAC, one of the country’s biggest motoring organizations.

Under the terms of the contract announced this week, EE (Hatfield, UK) is to provide embedded SIMs for the RAC’s (Walsall, UK) in-car telematics technology, allowing fleet managers to monitor vehicles remotely.

The 4G lead established by the UK’s EE has helped the operator secure a three-year deal to support telematics services for the RAC, one of the country’s biggest motoring organizations.

Under the terms of the contract announced this week, EE (Hatfield, UK) is to provide embedded SIMs for the RAC’s (Walsall, UK) in-car telematics technology, allowing fleet managers to monitor vehicles remotely.

The technology should allow managers to more easily track the location, mileage and fuel efficiency of vehicles, as well as identify mechanical faults and diagnose the cause of breakdowns and collisions without sending out a mechanic.

Insurers can also use the technology to gather data on driving behavior and tailor premiums to specific customers.

EE says it will initially support the service on its 2G and 3G networks but intends to provide a 4G service in the near future, which could open up new service possibilities given the capability of the high-speed network technology.

“The rapidly increasing connectivity in the UK is fuelling a boom in M2M telematics, and EE is leading the way in this space,” said Gerry McQuade, the chief marketing officer of EE’s non-consumer division. “There are endless possibilities for its application in the automotive sector, and this partnership will enable RAC to ensure its customers are the first to reap the rewards of superfast connectivity.”

The RAC seems to have been attracted to EE largely because of the coverage and capability of its 4G network, which rivals including Telefonica (Slough, UK) and Vodafone (Newbury, UK) may struggle to match.

EE was given a headstart in the 4G market in late 2012, when regulatory authorities allowed the operator to provide the superfast service over spectrum originally meant for 2G technology.

Telefonica and Vodafone entered the 4G market as recently as August – having been forced to wait until the outcome of a spectrum auction held earlier this year before they could begin developing their own networks – and have yet to introduce the technology across much of the UK.

The deal with the RAC comes shortly after EE concluded major wholesale agreements with supermarket chain Asda and cable company Virgin Media, which also cited EE’s 4G strengths in explaining its choice of provider.

Although 4G is considered a costly option for telematics services – in comparison with longer-established 2G and 3G alternatives – organizations are increasingly keen to ‘future-proof’ their services, as concern grows about operators’ willingness to continue supporting older systems.

Many also want to take advantage of the higher speeds of 4G to provide more sophisticated M2M services.

“The RAC is dedicated to developing technology and networks that make significant differences to a business,” said David Aldridge, the RAC’s director of business services.

“As the UK’s largest mobile network provider and pioneers of the UK’s first 4G service, EE is a natural partner of choice for RAC.”