Your Smartphone on Wheels

Chris Penrose AT&T

Today you carry your smartphone in your pocket or purse. Soon, you will be sitting inside your phone, driving to work, to see friends, to run errands. From a location point-of-view, a connected car is no different than a smartphone. In the Internet of Things, everyone knows where you are.

Andrew Berg posted a great interview with a wireless exec today in Wireless Week that is worth sharing. Please see the full article here:

If you have a General Motors (GM) OnStar-enabled vehicle, and an AT&T phone, you can combine the two on a single plan. That allows music, navigation and video streaming, even the hurry and Yelp! search, to run through your car dash. In the article, Chris Penrose, senior vice president of AT&T's Emerging Devices business, said that there's a lot of flexibility in how data is priced behind the driver's wheel.

“Each individual automaker will decide what's the best choice for them,” Penrose said, noting that while GM is leaning heavily on AT&T's existing offerings-including day passes for those that don't want to commit to using data all the time-other automakers, like Tesla, have decided to include, or subsidize data, in the purchase price of the car.

Penrose also said that AT&T's new Sponsored Data initiative, which allows companies to subsidize the data needed to view or interact with their content, could also play into the automotive space.

“I think you're going to see a lot of activity in that area,” Penrose said.

AT&T's work with GM is an example of the opportunity that the connected car represents for wireless carriers. Penrose said that by the end of the year, GM will offer 30 models with AT&T embedded LTE connectivity and it has plans to eventually include the technology in all of its cars. That's representative of an overall trend. Research firm SBD forecasts that almost 36 million new cars will be shipped globally with embedded telematics by 2018, which would mean 31 percent of the total number of cars shipped in that year. That's compared to just 5.4 million in 2012. SBD says that part of that growth in embedded connectivity will be driven at least in part by regulations in the European Union and Russia making it mandatory for new vehicles to ship with systems that are able to automatically alert emergency services in the event of an accident.

But bringing connectivity to cars will have its challenges. Automakers for the most part operate on a 5-year design cycle, while carriers may add new functionality or software updates to hardware every 12 to 18 months.

Penrose said that part of treating a car like a connected device is ensuring that it can be updated like one.

Chris Penrose ATT

“Once you put that broadband pipe into the vehicle, you now have the ability to update that vehicle over the air, similar to what we're familiar with on a smartphone,” Penrose said. “That capability set, which has been out there for a while, will now be used with much greater frequency in the automobile space. Not only to update the head unit but also other sub-systems inside the vehicle.”

“We're very excited about what's going on in the industry…and I'm really excited to be able to show everyone more of what we're up to at CTIA in couple of months and going into next year.”

See you there, Chris!