One of the emerging themes from this week’s LTE Summit in Amsterdam has been the momentum behind LTE-powered machine-to-machine (M2M) services. Mobile operators are lining up at the prospect of billions of M2M connections from just about any vehicle, device, appliance or vending machine that can share status or location information. Auto manufacturers are also excited by the possibility of using data to gain precious customer insights while offering a higher level of driver satisfaction, as evidenced by display vehicles at the conference from BMW and Kia.
While M2M will be a boon for service provider revenues, the impact of chatty vehicles has more far-reaching implications. The obvious beneficiary is the driver, whose car becomes a mobile hotspot able to leverage music streaming, location and point of interest apps and other entertainment options. Vehicle manufacturers’ apps, such as GM’s OnStar, could also enhance drivers’ mobile phone utility to offer true telematics such as engine diagnostics; trended average speed and gas mileage; tire pressure; and tread life warnings or general over-the-air software upgrades.
All of this data, however, becomes more intriguing when you consider which companies could turn it into monetized information. For example, Texaco or BP could pay to prove that higher grades of gasoline actually do provide better mileage or higher performance for fuel injectors. In addition, BP could monitor how often drivers refuel at competing gas stations based on location and time of stay data. There could also be an opportunity for local businesses to see, for instance, that you drive by every day but don't stop in to visit or shop. What if they could create promotions based on driving habits or proximity?
Local governments could also gain more accurate traffic information with respect to driving times or traffic patterns. There is also no doubt that auto insurance companies would make great use of mileage, speed and braking information to raise or lower your insurance rates. Furthermore, in the United States, many highway authorities offer a radio frequency identification-based device, such as E-ZPass, for wireless payment of highway tolls. What if connected cars could function as e-wallets , unifying toll payment, parking and drive-thru food purchases in the same account? It’s like turning a prepaid phone into a pre-paid car, even as many of us struggle with car payments.
The opportunity to creatively mine M2M data could drive endless revenue streams that far exceed today’s initial network-based projections. The faster our most desired possessions can be equipped with M2M capabilities and the faster mobile operators can resolve issues between multigenerational networks (2G, 3G and 4G/LTE) and simplify intercarrier roaming, the faster we can all turn data into cash.
How do you think LTE will influence M2M technology? Tell me on Twitter at @andrewg211 and share your thoughts on the summit using #LTEWS.