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The CTIA Enterprise & Applications tradeshow is an important mobile industry trade event that has nevertheless been struggling in recent years to retain attendees in the face of stiff competition not only from Mobile World Congress, but also from the “main” CTIA tradeshow held earlier in the spring of each year, and a growing mobile focus at CES. Foot traffic at the show appeared to be noticeably down from the fall show last year.

Despite this, the size of the “M2M Zone” special interest section appeared to be the same or larger than last year (and a larger proportion of the overall show). It was also interesting to note that “M2M” products and services have filtered beyond the “zone” to feature in the main show floor booths of major communications companies. Companies such as Samsung and Huawei, for example, featured “smart home” (home automation) and “home healthcare” technologies and systems.
We attended an interesting demonstration of a luxury-class consumer telematics service offered by Audi, powered by a Telit Communications embedded HSPA module, and connected over the T-Mobile USA network by RACO Wireless. Apart from the polished visual UI, voice command capabilities, and extensive list of features, the most interesting feature was the high speed broadband access offered by the system. This broadband access is distributed to multiple car occupants via Wi-Fi and highlights how OEM consumer telematics is fundamentally shifting from a roadside assistance and concierge-services model, to an infotainment paradigm.
The question then arises, however: how will telematics hardware embedded in vehicles that are on the road for 7 or 10 years keep up with the pace of technological development of wireless broadband speeds? To some extent, the problem is ameliorated by the “rising tide lifts all boats” effect of increasing speed on the network side leading to the increasing speed of already deployed cellular connections using older versions of the same technology.
This manifests as a deployed radio coming closer to its theoretical maximum throughput as the underlying network technology improves. In other words, an HSPA connection rated at 7.2 Mbps but operating in the “real world” at 1 or 2 Mbps will start to achieve real world rates closer to 7.2 Mbps as the underlying network is advanced to 14 Mbps or 21 Mbps. This doesn’t solve the problem of the HSPA to LTE transition, but HSPA network technology is likely to be deployed through the remainder of this decade in any case.