Issue: Sep 2016


eSIMs provide seamless connectivity across borders



by John Larkin

New Audi models sold across 13 European countries now come standard with the Audi Connect® SIM, an embedded SIM or eSIM which customers will receive in combination with an optional Audi connect equipment package.

Ireland-based Cubic Telecom developed the technology, which is available in the Audi A3, the A4, the new A5, and the Q7 sold throughout Europe. Cubic Telecom has announced that its eSIM will be fitted to the next generation of Audi models as they are released.

The Audi TT, the R8, the A6 and the A7 are currently excluded from the offer. Access to the Audi Connect services is granted when the car is purchased, and is free for three years (depending on the model). MMI Navigation use is included for three months which can be extended at a fee. "In everything we do at Audi, we strive to deliver an experience that is intelligent, intuitive and elegant. Our new European models extend that experience to include a premium in-car connectivity solution which powers features like navigation, route guidance, information services, Wi-Fi hotspot service and more," said Marcus Keith, Director Development Audi Connect, HMI, Instrument Cluster, Displays and Controls at Audi in a press release.

"We value Cubic's advanced networking and software technologies to enable these services for Audi owners and enhance the ultimate driving experience our customers have come to expect," he added. Cubic Telecom provides an international LTE-based platform in partnership with the leadingTier 1 mobile network operators. "The Cubic global platform with Over-The-Air (OTA) provisioning enables Audi to sell a standardized connectivity solution globally. Realtime network and software updating are key to meeting Audi's requirements for a truly premium and continuously improving in-car connectivity experience," says Cubic Telecom CEO Barry Napier.

The SIM card connects through a LTE/UMTS module with a download speed of up to 100 MBit/s. Services include navigation with Google Earth and Google Street View, travel, traffic and parking information. In addition, drivers can access their Twitter and e-mail accounts and their smartphone’s calendar.

Customers can also purchase additional data packages for an on-board Wi-Fi hotspot independent of the integrated Audi connect services. This component of the optional navigation system allows passengers to surf the Internet at attractive rates with up to eight mobile devices.

If a customer selects a European data package, the data transfer is done automatically when crossing an international border – and thus when changing internet provider – at fixed prices. Customers reach the online shop of Cubic Telecom through their myAudi account.

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Gerry McQuaid, EVP Commercial/Board Member at Cubic Telecom, what makes Cubic Telecom's eSim technology stand out.

McQuaid: Cubic Telecom offers the most comprehensive and competitive independent options available, and its product enables uninterrupted data connectivity across extensive geographic footprints and helps redefine the driving experience for Audi customers.

While traditional mobile operators leverage their SIM cards to tether users to their national network footprint and billing plans, Cubic Telecom’s innovative Multi-IMSI SIM card technology empowers a new global footprint, seamless connectivity, and affordable and flexible rates for data, voice and SMS on a single SIM card. Equally important, our proprietary cloud-based Intelligent Platform gives Cubic the competitive advantage to offer customers virtually unlimited features and capabilities, as well as enterprise-class security and scalability.

The cloud platform supports real-time billing, rating and provisioning engines, as well as customer-specific retail rate sheets, complex multi-tiered billing structures, split billing, bundled billing and much more. Cubic’s value proposition includes multi IMSI, multi-network profile capabilities, real-time & over-the-air reprograming, network and technology agnostic (3G, CDMA and LTE), and SIM card control entirely by Cubic.

AI: How complex is the connected car ecosystem?

McQuaid: Connected car platforms act like smartphones, and as such they may rack up roaming charges and/or drop connectivity as they are handed off from one carrier to another. To streamline this process Cubic Telecom has formed partnerships with auto-makers, chip companies, modem manufacturers, wireless carriers, platform and solution companies and content providers. Cubic has also established partnerships with top mobile networks on a single global SIM card. These SIMs allow the Audi vehicles to remain local in terms of data usage even as they move from one wireless carrier to another. This is integral to making data plans affordable and will enable the car owner and passenger to connect to online content without worrying about roaming charges or dips in network quality or connectivity. Updates of software, firmware and security are carried out remotely and automatically.

AI: What are the other pain points that every automotive manufacturer is experiencing with connected car technologies?

McQuaid: Most auto manufacturers have multiple plants around the world. They want a flexible platform that can give them a single product (SKU) to install at manufacturing, no matter the country, and then straight out to the door and ready for shipping/sale to consumers and dealers globally. They do not want to deal with a different SKU for each market. Additional pain points include the need to substitute whole SIM profiles, third parties involved in the SIM management software process and ad-hoc commercial agreements for each individual deal.

AI: Tell us about Cubic Telecom’s virtual mobile networks across the globe.

McQuaid: Cubic co-exists with local carriers through a multitude of local network operator agreements, bringing our customers into contact with MNO partners. It has integrations with more than 20 operators worldwide and provides connectivity in nearly 200 countries. We have the largest independent LTE footprint in Europe, and have developed relationships with wellestablished PC OEMs, automotive manufacturers and branded retailers globally. Cubic intends to have approximately 40 local MNO integrations by the end of 2016.

AI: How did Cubic Telecom’s partnership with Audi for the Audi Connect Sim evolve?

McQuaid: Audi launched Cubic’s technology in May with its Q7, Q5 and A4 ranges, and chose Cubic to deliver its end-toend in-car connectivity solution, fully integrated with the vehicle dashboard and the Audi manufacturing process for its premium, in-car solution. Cubic was able to bring-to-market quickly its Audi Connect platform and ultimately brought “living room luxury” inside the car. Audi customers are now able to access Audi infotainment services, and also purchase competitive regional or Europe-wide data plans using an in-car store or the myAudi web portal. This provides easy internet access for drivers' portable devices with personal apps using the Audi connect Wi-Fi hotspot.

AI: How do you see your partnership developing over the next few years?

McQuaid: The integration will be brought to additional European Audi models, as well as VW and Porsche models, and these models will be sold in more countries across Europe. Its connected car platform will also come to North America and Asia in the near future.

 

 



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