With 4G coverage growing throughout the U.S., it makes sense that carriers are now pushing harder than ever for subscribers. The problem is, smartphones still remain the major source of subscriptions to 4G networks. Sure, there are tablets and a handful of other devices that U.S. carriers offer data packages for, but smartphones are the major source of suscriptions.
Seeing how limited it is by the lack of 4G enabled devices, Verizon has taken the initiative and brought together a group of automotive companies to look at creating data-enabled cars. This week the company formed the 4G Venture Forum for Connected Cars to push through innovation in car design. BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, and Toyota are all on-board. According to Verizon, the group will explore ways to make cars of all types connected and discuss ways to accelerate deployment of 4G LTE technology in the automotive industry.
“There are many challenges to designing next generation telematics and infotainment solutions, including supporting safe and responsible driving, advancing vehicle-to-vehicle solutions and improving sustainability, among others,” said Tami Erwin, chief marketing officer for Verizon Wireless. ”As an innovator in the technology industry, Verizon is a natural impetus for this collaboration, which we all expect will include other companies and spur results that will benefit not only the industry, but millions of consumers around the world.”
It is easy to see the benefits of having a high speed data connection on the road. Navigation, weather reports, and messaging features are the basic uses that come to mind. Also, in-car apps for Pandora and similar streaming radio services would be the end of satellite radio. Combined with Google's self-driving cars, a 4G data connection would mean a mobile living room.
The only question left is why no U.S. car companies are part of Verizon's new forum. The answer for Ford could be that the company is already far ahead of other car companies with its SYNC technology, and is perhaps already working on implementing data in its cars. Chrysler and GM could use a place at the table with Verizon if they hope to catch up, as car technology is rapidly shifting focus to Silicon Valley rather than Detroit.