Government comms
Issue 5 | April 2014
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steering the next wave of connected vehicles
While the connected car concept is not new, satellite technology has the potential to significantly broaden the possibilities for the next generation of connected vehicles.

By Asher Faredi
Product Manager of Land Data,
and Marwan Joudeh
Product Manager for M2M and Product Lifecycle Management at Thuraya
New developments in connected vehicles have transformed the automotive industry as we know it today. By enabling connectivity for drivers on the move, connected vehicles can help enhance traffic safety, reduce travel time, as well as improve fuel efficiency.

According to a report by GSMA, the global connected vehicle market is expected to grow threefold to reach an estimated value of EUR39 billion in 20181. Consumer expectations for connectivity in the car have evolved beyond GPS route-mapping — and are shifting towards high-speed internet availability and the deployment of smartphone integration systems.

At the same time, new developments in the connected car market are on the rise to meet the increased demand among car owners for safety and security features. For instance, it has been reported that the United States is exploring a regulatory framework to make machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity mandatory to achieve auto safety improvements2.

Driving change with satellite communications

Satellite technology has the potential to significantly broaden the possibilities of connected vehicles, and Thuraya is now working closely with car manufacturers to take on the challenge of extending M2M connectivity. Currently, M2M depends mainly on GSM networks, which can be limited in terms of network coverage, especially for vehicles that are required to cross international borders or be deployed in remote locations.

Backed by our congestion-free satellite coverage, Thuraya is able to provide solutions that address mission-critical needs in rural and remote areas — such as border patrol units that need reliable coverage to transmit video images back to their headquarters, or an emergency response vehicle requiring communications anywhere. The Thuraya IP Voyager, our new vehicular satellite terminal, is designed to connect at broadband speeds of up to 444kbps while on the move.

Beyond this, Thuraya is stepping up its efforts to address customer requirements for connectivity in the commercial vehicle arena.

The challenge here is to source antennas that are available at a cost that would be viable for a commercial car. Existing vehicle antennas are mounted on the vehicle roof, which is feasible for the non-commercial sector. But how many car owners would want to have an antenna mounted on the roof? Thuraya is seeking opportunities to work with developers to create flat panel antennas that are aesthetically pleasing to customers and are affordable.

Another key concern that needs to be addressed is security. With recent incidents such as NSA hacking making the headlines, many car owners may still be uncomfortable with the idea of opening up their vehicles to mobile connectivity in general. For connected cars to gain commercial traction, satellite operators and car manufacturers need to collaborate closely to address these security concerns. In the Middle East, for instance, many governments closely regulate vehicular telematics service providers to provide the assurance that user privacy is safeguarded.

An important advantage that satellite operators have over GSM service providers is their ability to provide an affordable, uniform and optimized cost for their connectivity, even across international borders, as opposed to expensive roaming charges under cellular coverage. This helps facilitate new business models for the car manufacturers that are currently not possible with cellular data, as well as enables Thuraya to leverage its unique position in being able to offer satellite-enabled cellular roaming.

Towards a truly connected vehicle

The growing demand for connected vehicles promises massive business potential for many sectors, from satellite operators and product developers to vehicle manufacturers. As satellite technology plays a critical role in enabling connectivity for vehicles, Thuraya will continue to develop and deliver innovations that will drive the future of connected vehicles.

1 GSMA, Connected Car Forecast: Global Connected Car Market to Grow Threefold Within Five Years, June 2013

2, USA Looks to Mandate Connected Car Technology, February 2014
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