Advanced Television

Can Musk deliver connectivity for cars?

May 30, 2022

Cars – at least in some markets – are already extremely well connected, whether from pay-radio services such as SiriusXM or cellular telephony which hooks up via Bluetooth to the vehicle’s audio system or delivering map-based information.

Northern Sky Research (NSR), in a comprehensive study, recognises the huge improvements made in vehicles which have become “smartphones on wheels” and with a number of points of potential connection now in regular use.

But NSR thinks there could be much more, commenting: “One thing we have not seen very much of during these 20 years of automotive digitisation is satellite-connected cars. While the land mobile via satellite markets for military and some high-end enterprise customers have been around for some time, the prospect of mass-market cars being connected to satellite, while often discussed (in vague terms), has failed to materialise.”

Elon Musk’s Starlink system can easily supply feeds to cars and trucks – but currently doesn’t like those vehicles to be moving. Nevertheless, there are opportunities but the familiar ‘shark fin’ device on the roof of cars and other vehicles needs to be suitably adapted for a direct satellite feed.

NSR’s 10th Edition of its Land Mobile via Satellite report explores the MSS narrowband use cases and the form factors divide. The study evaluates all other commercial land mobile form factors, handhelds, hotspots, and COTP (Connected Oriented Transport Protocol, an ISO 8073 programme).

Of course, the challenge isn’t just relevant for cars, but buses, trains and urban hotspots. The report provides a comprehensive assessment of how satellite can tap into the connected vehicle market.

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