The desire to be online in the car is especially widespread among the under-30 age group. According to a study by the Center of Automotive Management, these Internet users are more willing to give up their cars than their smartphones.
Western Europe already had over six million Internet-enabled cars in 2012; this figure is projected to reach 48 million by next year. As a result, the IT sector and the automotive industry see it as their common duty to design the mobility of the future.
The foundation for future mobility consists of fast mobile networks, high-performance data centers and highly efficient platforms. Deutsche Telekom's Connected Car business area has already taken to the streets with a variety of pioneering projects and products. At the International Motor Show in Frankfurt (IAA), Deutsche Telekom will have its own stand in the New Mobility World – its motto is the "Secure Auto Cloud."
We spoke about this with Heinz Egeler, Head of the business area.
Hello Herr Egeler, do you still drive yourself or do you use driving assistants?
Heinz Egeler: I still drive myself, of course, but I'm also thrilled by the numerous driving assistants, which can provide important support in many traffic situations. I like to use the assistants, because they get me to my destination in comfort. They also provide additional safety in every traffic situation, which I no longer want to do without.
Hasn't Google already cornered the market for self-driving cars?
Heinz Egeler: Not at all. As a lateral entrant, Google is surely an important protagonist in the digitization of the car. But even Google will hardly be able to tackle this huge future project on its own, without a partnership at eye level with the automotive and IT industries. Autonomous driving can only become reality if the vehicle is connected end-to-end. At the same time, the "automotive ecosystem" also comprises traffic lights, gas stations, service and repair shops and car manufacturers, not to mention pedestrians, motorcycles and bicycles. The infrastructure is decisive – including, but not limited to, fast, secure mobile networks, powerful platforms and reliable big data analytics.
Does Deutsche Telekom have a good position here?
Heinz Egeler: Deutsche Telekom's Connected Car business area has already taken to the streets with a variety of pioneering products. These solutions show how close the ITC sector and the automotive industry have grown together so far. We operate the back end for Daimler's COMAND Online infotainment platform, for example, with over a million connected Mercedes vehicles worldwide. For BMW, we are bringing new entertainment apps to the vehicles and connecting cars and homes. At the Port of Hamburg, we are optimizing truck traffic in a partnership with SAP, reducing the number of logjams on the port grounds. For the Chinese market, we have entered a joint venture for our networking solutions together with China Mobile, the largest mobile network operator in the world.
The IT sector and the automotive industry are moving ever closer together. Deutsche Telekom will have a stand at the IAA motor show for the first time this year. What will you be presenting to the professional public?
Heinz Egeler: In the "New Mobility World" at the IAA, we will present our real-time solutions for connecting drivers and vehicles, such as the digital infrastructure for assisted driving. The core product is our Connected Car platform, which connects the vehicles – regardless of the maker – to the back-end systems of the manufacturers and service providers and which gets services such as real-time traffic information, warnings and messages to the in-car screens quickly and safely through our mobile networks.
The infrastructure is the backbone of digitizing vehicles and traffic. What will the future bring?
Heinz Egeler: There are already an estimated 5 million connected or connectible cars on the road in Germany today, of the approximately 62.4 million vehicles in total. And this number is growing day by day. Real-time in-car services require fast mobile networks. Deutsche Telekom is upgrading its networks constantly, to meet demands for higher bandwidth and greater capacities wherever the demand exists or arises. The mobile networks along the autobahn network have been had 3G coverage nearly everywhere for years, for example. And thanks to the massive network upgrade to LTE, wherever "only" 2G coverage is available now, LTE will be available within just a few years. As a result, nearly the entire road network will enjoy access to much higher bandwidths and capacities. As such, no network infrastructure will be set up exclusively to serve connected vehicles. In the framework of research projects and the evolution of mobile communications specifications and standards – with the involvement of Deutsche Telekom – we are also advancing specific enhancements for communication between connected vehicles, such as Mobile Edge Computing and LTE-V(ehicular), based on the existing mobile networks.
Huge questions are being raised about security in the digitization of vehicles. What are Deutsche Telekom's answers?
Heinz Egeler: Data privacy and IT security must have top priority in every cloud solution. The cloud "made in Germany" is a key foundation. Ultimately, drivers want to be sure that while their personal information makes it easier to schedule servicing, it is protected against access by unauthorized third parties. Deutsche Telekom offers security solutions for the entire value chain in the automotive ecosystem – all compliant with European and German data privacy standards.