4 Ways LTE will Change the Way We Drive and Use Cars

December 12, 2016 // By EDN Europe
By Stefano Moioli, Director Product Management Cellular, u-blox

4G-LTE technology is rocking the consumer electronics world - being embraced for its higher bandwidth and low latency that finally closes the gap between mobile networks and fixed broadband. Consumers can now have a seamless internet experience that’s as fast and responsive on the road as it is at home. The adoption of LTE is having an immediate effect on the cellphone industry by boosting internet connection speeds for users, but the biggest impact of LTE could lie in its potential to transform the automotive experience.

4G-LTE: Made for Automotive

Though originally conceived to power the next generation of cellphones, 4G-LTE’s benefits happen to suit the needs of automotive communications perfectly.

LTE has three key strengths for automotive applications - bandwidth, latency and coverage. Free from the constraints of legacy protocols, LTE was designed from scratch for high bandwidth. It supports up to 150 Mb/s download and 50 Mb/s upload on a single carrier, enough to stream multiple full HD streams. Beyond bandwidth, LTE was also optimized for real-time latency, with 10ms round trip times possible - that’s below the threshold of human perception. Finally, LTE has superior range and coverage. LTE cells can be large as 30 miles, and connectivity can be supported in mobile terminals traveling as fast as 500 km/hr - way beyond the speed limit.

Wi-Fi Hotspots

Wi-Fi hotspots are one of the most immediate and effective applications of LTE in automotive settings. With the huge bandwidth offered by 4G, a single vehicle LTE connection can provide a Wi-Fi hotspot that streams content across multiple devices. GM is already offering this bundled with its Onstar service and estimates that the rollout of 4G LTE mobile broadband in its cars and trucks will generate $350 million in profit over the next three years.

But Wi-Fi hotspots are more than a revenue generator for car companies. For consumers, they mean internet access on the go that’s as fast and reliable as the broadband they experience at home. Though 4G-LTE is technically the same wireless technology that the latest generation of smartphones use, cars implementing LTE can take advantage of vehicle power as well as a larger antenna to boost reception way beyond what a cellphone can provide, so even 4G smartphone users can benefit from a Wi-Fi connection that works well in underground parking garages where they can’t get a good signal on their phone.

Advanced Infotainment and Navigation

The superior bandwidth 4G-LTE provides will take infotainment and navigation systems to the next level. It will be possible to make voice calls or even video calls, while simultaneously streaming data. Navigation systems will be able to show real time street imagery or video content to assist drivers in finding their way. Location based video could also be used to deliver relevant information for tourist sites, national parks, or commercial establishments. Real-time traffic updates combined with live video feeds could help drivers plan their routes better to get to their destination on time.

Next Generation ADAS

While Google and Tesla are currently testing self-driving cars, autonomous vehicles are still a distant