The rollout of the LTE Mobile (LTE-M) and Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) networks quickly became industry standard. With benefits including faster connection, lower data consumption and higher overall efficiency, LTE-M and NB-IoT have practically rendered 2G and 3G obsolete.
The trend continues to bring tremors to the vehicle telematics sector. In an industry that demands constant connection, any technology that promises better connectivity is a blessing. Even governments are becoming aware of how important this is for the industry’s efficiency and productivity. The Indian government mandates 6-seater and larger public vehicles to install vehicle tracking devices. It prompted leading IT firms Cognizant, Wipro and Infosys to come up with their own telematics solutions.
In the Western Hemisphere, the same case is happening, most notably in the US. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration mandated the installation of electronic logging devices (ELDs) in commercial fleets. The device automates the logging of a driver’s Record of Duty Status (RODS), and its software may be used to send/receive vital information like route updates via data connection. Verizon Connect states that fleet telematics continue to be dependent on GPS and GPRS for communication, and it doesn’t seem like it will change anytime soon. LTE-M and mobile IoT are empowering mobile computing and connectivity to levels never seen before. It won’t be surprising if these innovations soon completely overtake vehicle telematics.
What exactly makes mobile IoT a game changer? Some of the more obvious benefits of using mobile IoT-supported devices are longer battery life, more secure connectivity, and broader coverage. LTE is also more cost-effective than most 3G data plans. Other not so obvious advantages have to do with its framework. Mobile IoT uses the same infrastructure as 2G and 3G. Thus, an upgrade does not entail a migration or any serious resource adjustments. It’s simply a better iteration of what is already there.
Moreover, the alternatives are also on the verge of obsolescence. Bluetooth has become practically irrelevant, while WiFi has coverage and range limitations. Non-mobile low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) technologies such as those from Sigfox and LoRa can be too demanding, as they require the creation of proprietary networks. In other words, they need more complicated programs and multiple signal distributors to maximise efficiency.
Lastly, it has potential for more advanced applications. The increased connection capacity will be crucial to the development of another area in fleet management – commercial fully autonomous self-driving cars. Lyft CEO John Simmer’s three-phase autonomous vehicle plan already started last year. Semi-autonomous cars have been rolled out and they’re travelling on selected routes in some cities in the US. As fully autonomous fleets begin to populate the streets, mobile IoT will play a big role for their sustainability and efficiency.
It seems that mobile IoT is here for the long haul. With many markets still adapting to the technology, it will take some time before new technologies are able to top LTE for industry-wide implementation. At the moment, it’s the most capable player for the vehicle telematics industry’s ever-increasing demands.
This post is submitted by Andrea Coleman.