As vehicle applications and technology continue to grow at a fast pace, communications is becoming an increasingly viewed domain. Within the broad domain of communications, cellular machine-to-machine (M2M) communications is a fast growing vertical. Ashish Gulati, Country Manager, India Operations, Telit Communications SpA gave us a thorough rundown on this domain.
The M2M concept is based on devices and sensors communicating with each other and relaying information over conventional wireless communications network. Using embedded SIM-based communication technology enables creation of a wide variety of applications, Gulati said.
The product aimed at automotive applications is the LE920, which can connect to LTE and HSPA+ cellular modes. Full backward compatibility with existing EDGE and GSM/GPRS networks through integrated quad band radios enables the module to offer connectivity across a wider area. This quality makes it suitable for automotive applications such as vehicle tracking.
LE920 can be optionally equipped with an embedded GPS/GLONASS receiver and antenna diversity circuitry. Its interface is claimed to offer ease of integration of peripherals and actuators. It also supports addition of certain features aimed at providing extended functionality without any costs. The system also offers the ability for over-the-air maintenance and management of firmware and application software on the module. Silicon chips for the final product are sourced from Intel and Qualcomm presently.
In India Telit’s business is divided into four divisions – energy, telematics, handheld and telemetry. The division covering the automotive industry is telematics as it provides solutions for applications such as fleet management. Revenue from the automotive telematics customers in India presently accounts for about 20 % of the total domestic revenue.
Presently, the company derives majority of its revenues from the aftermarket but is in talks with OEMs too for offering their products. This business though will take some time to develop, said Gulati. One of the key areas to witness growth in terms of M2M communications in the country is infotainment systems. As the consumers demand more features and better connectivity, products offered by Telit will find increased traction.
One of the recent adopters of the technology is the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), which uses tracking devices in some of its new buses. These devices have been imported from one of Telit’s clients and reflect the increasing adoption of M2M.
The company’s products are developed through global R&D facilities and there are no short term plans to establish these capabilities in India. The immediate plan for the company is to work with system integration companies. This will allow for better market penetration and a system level approach. The company is already in talks with some undisclosed Tier I automotive suppliers for integration of its products, said Gulati.
A key challenge in India is the relative lack of the right service providers. In the recent years, however, there has been a significant improvement in this area and Gulati expects it to improve significantly in the next few years.
Text : Arpit Mahendra