The Car Connectivity War Is About To Heat Up
Things are about to get very interesting in the connected car universe. For a primer right now the state of the art for in-car communication is 4G LTE. Just like your smartphone, today’s cars come with preinstalled modems which can receive and send data across the 4G LTE cellular spectrum. This effectively gives your car internet access, and allows you to consume all sorts of content (streamed music, traffic reports, etc.) right from your driver’s seat. But fasten your seatbelts for what’s about to happen next.
In one corner we have two of the biggest OEMs, GM and Toyota, who’ve been helping to build a government-supported next gen platform called DSRC (Dedicated Short Range Communication). The simplest way to explain this is to imagine your car communicating with a network of digital traffic lights the way first responder vehicles do today. This communication could help control traffic flow, warn of accidents, etc.. While this sounds nice GM, Toyota, and the US government have been working on DSRC for so long it may become obsolete before the technology ever gets rolled out.
This leads us to the other option – 5G LTE. 5G is coming to cellular anyways, so other EOMs like Ford and BMW are looking to integrate this technology instead of DSRC. The benefits of 5G LTE are its speed and pinpoint accuracy – in tests two cars connected by 5G LTE can avoid a collision 10x faster than 4G. And the system doesn’t rely on government infrastructure investment since the bandwidth is already being created for the cellular industry.
I know I’m in the tech weeds on this one. If you want to go to school on the battle for the next iteration of in-car connectivity check out the attached WSJ link. It’ll be interesting to see how this gets sorted out, and which auto tech consortium wins this epic tug of war.