Issue: Sep 2017

Cost-effective road to higher LTE speeds for OEMs and Tier 1s

by Jon Knox

OEMs and Tier One companies in the United States and elsewhere can now include three new high-speed wireless connectors in their design following the recent announcement of the LTE Cat 9 LE940A9 and certification by AT&T of the Telit LTE Cat 6 LE940B6 and LTE Cat 4 LE920A4.

According to the company, its smart modules are engineered to power the entire connected car platform, supporting current connectivity needs with the flexibility to address application areas such as online navigation, telematics services, in-car infotainment and mandated safety and emergency services.

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Yossi Moscovitz, CEO of Telit Automotive Solutions, what makes the AT&T certified LE920A4 and LE940B6 best-in-class solutions for the connected car.

Moscovitz: I would start with the concept of the nested footprint which allows for migration of designs from LTE Cat 4 to higher categories into new products to support upcoming technologies. This gives the adopter of Telit modules a costeffective solution to evolve to the higher LTE categories. The modules were designed to fit global deployment requirements with a fairly small number of SKUs. This definitely makes life easier for carmakers planning global shipments and deployments.

AI: What were the challenges in creating high speed automotive mobile data solutions?

Moscovitz: The higher the speed, the higher the clock signals and the more challenging is the electrical design in terms of eliminating  interferences, achieving the required sensitivity, noise levels and so on. On top of that, the higher the bandwidth, the higher the power consumption, which in turn generates more heat which has to be dissipated. The modules must operate in a temperature range going from -40 to +85 Celsius and in extreme cases even up to +95C. Another factor related to higher speeds is that they require more antennas, as you have to accommodate more RF paths into a small area. When you think about it, we’re just at the infancy as an industry, especially when future releases of high category LTE, such as Cat 19, and 5G, will deliver even higher speeds than what is available now.

AI: How does Telit manage security?

Moscovitz: We have a layered approach. To that end, the modem has embedded features which ensure that the unit itself cannot be hacked. However, additional steps must be taken. In order to be secure the system must have additional defenses across the data transport layer, the communication layer, the backend storage facility, and so on.

AI: How have you positioned yourselves as a leading supplier of IoT solutions from ‘the thing to the app’?

Moscovitz: Telit started as a supplier in the M2M/IoT space enabling communication devices to connect things to the Internet on the back end. As the business grew, we learned that many customers were struggling with similar deployment challenges related to the entire end to end solution, from the sensor or the device itself through the connectivity to the back end. To alleviate this we came up with an idea that directly addressed this challenge and therefore significantly shortened their time to market.

AI: What R&D facilities does Telit have?

Moscovitz: We have several R&D centers spread around the world. The centers which specialize in automotive design are located in Tel Aviv and Leuven. They are fully equipped with specialized labs for the qualification of products with RF testing chambers, audio testing, and environmental chambers for temperature tests. We also have a group dedicated to the development of test equipment for production lines and a quality team that oversees the entire process. As technologies evolve, so do our centers. Our R&D includes a robust team of field test groups which conduct tests around the globe.

AI: How closely does Telit work with the automotive industry?

Moscovitz: We have good, direct relationships with OEMs and we meet with them regularly in order to understand what they are planning and how they see the future and the features they may want to include. Our direct customers are the Tier 1s that are suppliers to the OEMs. We engage with them in replying to RFIs and RFQs.

When we start developing a solution we first develop a platform – a generic product that is based on a specific chip, feature set, etc., that we believe is required for the industry as a whole. The next step is to customize and add features for specific requirements.

AI: What are your predictions for the future of connected cars and autonomous vehicles?

Moscovitz: There are several “megatrends” that influence the car industry. The most dominant is the autonomous car. In order to achieve full autonomy, which is slated for about 2025 or so, the technology requirements require collaboration by all the players in the ecosystem. Telit contributes by leveraging our expertise in enablement and the processing of data. There are increasing requirements to transmit and process data, demanding higher bandwidths in the communication devices in order to transmit volumes of data back to the server and at the same time download rich data and information into the car. Our contribution to this trend is expertise in the development of products and advanced features that support these higher categories of LTE at a pace that keeps us at the forefront. Another trend is V2V or V2X, the real-time communication of the vehicle with its surroundings. It could be a pedestrian next to the car, or another vehicle, or traffic lights, and any other object in the vicinity. Currently, there are two technologies that are competing for the preferred solution spot. One is the DSRC and the other is Cellular V2X. We are engaged in the development of both.

The profile of use of the vehicle is also changing with the Shared Car concept. Today, a one-person owned vehicle is used about 2-3 hours per day. With shared car, we’re seeing usage of 18 hours a day! This immediately and directly affects the life of the electronic components embedded into the car. Consider this: If you take 10 years of operation time going from three to 18 hours per day this shows you the need for higher reliability, longer life. And for mission critical devices, for example, you will need two systems – one to back up the primary. You don’t want to be in an autonomous car that lost its communication and doesn’t know what to do – that’s scary. As we get closer to the availability of autonomous car, we see that more communication devices will be needed per car. Today, the market penetration of communication devices is about 40%. But in the future that will jump to 100% with two, maybe three communication devices per vehicle leveraging cellular plus DSRC or other technologies

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