Satellite Provides the Key to the Connected Car

By Jay Yass, Vice President, Market Development

Delivering bandwidth to the “connected car” offers a major market opportunity for communications companies while at the same time giving auto manufacturers a more efficient way to update software in the under-the-hood computers that are increasingly vital to vehicle operations. We are just beginning to see this technology develop with cars on the road today using LTE cellular networks. The idea of the connected car, however, extends far beyond driver conveniences such as radio programming and navigation systems. And satellite is the ideal technology to take the connected car to the next level.

That’s because, unlike local and regional LTE networks, satellite systems are global. Intelsat satellites reach 99% of the world’s populated regions. A homogenous global satellite network is ideally suited to the world’s car manufacturers, most of which sell cars on every continent. With satellite, companies like Toyota, Honda and Ford can reach all of their vehicles on a single network, whether the cars are in heavily populated metros in Canada or in remote regions of Africa. This is in stark contrast to auto companies having to contract with hundreds of terrestrial cell carriers in order to achieve global coverage.

Further, satellite offers a consolidated distribution opportunity, including the ability to broadcast a software update to all cars in a region simultaneously, which reduces the number of network entry and exit points that can invite cyber-attack. This type of security is a major requirement for the future of the connected car and is already built into the benefit of satellite connectivity.

We demonstrated the use of satellite in this application for several weeks earlier this year when we provided satellite connectivity to a custom Toyota 4-Runner vehicle, outfitted with a prototype of the Kymeta flat panel antenna embedded in the roof. Dubbed “Kytrek,” the demonstration used the Galaxy 17 satellite for interactive, two-way, 10-megabit communications (such as email, Skype, Netflix and YouTube, among other applications) to the vehicle on its journey across the United States, from Seattle, Washington to Washington, D.C.

Less than 10 percent of the Earth is covered by 4G/LTE, and the wireless spectrum it covers is expensive. Any connectivity solution that leaves 4 billion not served is not a solution. With the many advantages satellite offers in terms of reach and cost efficiency, in conjunction with Kymeta’s antenna technology, we are poised to play a leading role in unlocking the potential of the connected car and other commercial vehicles that play a critical role in business operations around the globe, from large-scale agriculture to mining operations in remote areas to oil and gas exploration in the middle of the ocean … even the connected yacht, as was also demonstrated recently.

For more on this, please see our white paper, “Satellite Security for Connected and Autonomous Automobiles”.

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