Wireless connectivity is fast becoming a critical element for any new car or commercial vehicle entering the market. So much so that European telecom major Transatel describes automotive OEMs as “the next telcos”. Vehicle assemblers therefore need to gain full control of the connectivity component of their service offering. “Whether for telematics, pay-as-yougo insurance, autonomous driving or infotainment, connecting vehicles means adding new revenues streams, but also new costs—those of the SIM card, airtime, platform management, services and technical integration. It also means potential lock-in with cellular carriers,” says the company. Transatel recently launched a consumer-focused brand, Ubigi, which is dedicated to providing wireless services for the Internet of Things (IoT).
Ubigi, an eSIM-compatible service, was deployed starting 2018 by Microsoft Surface (US, Europe, and Japan), Asus (Europe), Acer (US, Europe), Vaio (Japan), and by Lenovo in the US under the Lenovo Connect brand. Transatel is offering Ubigi services to several manufacturers of laptops, tablets and automobiles in Europe, Japan and the USA. “At this point in our development, we believed it was necessary to create a brand dedicated to the Internet of Things. Ubigi embodies this positioning, as relevant for laptops and tablets as it is for automobiles,” said Jacques Bonifay, Chief Executive Officer of Transatel. The company’s capabilities have been increased through its acquisition by NTT Communications Corporation. NTT helps enterprises to overcome complexity and risk in their ICT environments with managed IT infrastructure solutions. Transatel is a mobile virtual network enabler or MVNE. The service offers the same advantages to the car industry as it does to the consumer electronics sector, namely: integrate once to deploy globally.
Thanks to a zero-rating facility, vehicle manufacturers can perform over-the-air software updates at no cost to the end user, according to the company. The first vehicles to be equipped with Transatel’s technology are in the Jaguar and Land Rover ranges, and have been available since June 2018. The two companies signed a Master Services Agreement for a global cellular connectivity solution aiming to cover Jaguar Land Rovers’ connected car passenger applications: internet browsing and navigation services from the vehicle console, as well as on-board Wi-Fi, according to a Transatel release.
Transatel said it would be providing a data plan from 2018 for Jaguar and Land Rover models in the UK, Italy, and Germany. Extensions, with a selection of local and European plans, are available for selected models. Transatel will be providing the service, managing customer and retailer relations, providing customer and retailer support, and ensuring the payment process for the purchase of data bundles by end users.
Transatel says the design of the customer journey for this connected car service is the result of over 18 years’ experience in marketing telecom offers to end-users in European territories. Clients seamlessly manage their accounts via a self-service application, accessible with any device connected through the car’s Wi-Fi. The multilingual self-care application enables account management, user registration and payment method registration, among other features. “We’re excited to be launching our second European connected car project with such a prestigious and renowned company as Jaguar Land Rover.
This time not for telematics, but for passenger applications. We’ve been evangelizing the market for more than a year now, explaining to car OEMs worldwide how to avoid major lock-in risks and answering their concerns about security, among others. It seems the superiority of our platform and business model has now become apparent to some major players of the automotive industry,” said Philippe Vigneau, Vice President - Business development at Transatel.
The application is also being used in commercial fleets. In December 2018 Transatel and Giesecke+Devrient Mobile Security (G+D) partnered with truck maker Scania for its embedded telematics units with global connectivity. “Scania already provides its customers with a telematics service, but is now going one step further, as it is looking to deploy worldwide. In this context, Scania needed a fully eUICC-compliant solution (provided by G+D), supported by a global, flexible and secure technical platform.
Transatel will offer Scania its competitive data prices worldwide, as well its core value proposition for all IoT players: a one-time integration for a global deployment,” said the company. The solution deployed for Scania’s telematics services is also suitable for the truck manufacturer’s other projects, in which trucks will be generating and exchanging different types of data flows.
Transatel’s versatile platform allows for a variety of projects and SIM usages to be operated within the same account and environment.
Transatel says that as security is one of the major concerns for any truck manufacturer, it further guarantees connectivity security via a private APN and secure authentication. The solution presents built-in, end-to-end security mechanisms compliant with connected car and remote-control services standards.
Technically, the profiles are stored in Transatel’s SM-DP hosted by G+D Mobile Security and are transferred to the G+D eSIM via the Scania SM-SR platform, also hosted and operated by G+D Mobile Security.
Thanks to global connectivity, and to the comprehensive connectivity management platform, Scania will be able to offer its telematics services consistently around the world – services such as fleet management, remote control, predictive maintenance and over-the-air software updates.
At one end, Scania will be able to better optimize the operational costs of its fleets engaged in leasing contracts. At the other, Scania’s customers will be able to benefit from smart connected services and manage their own fleets with better efficiency.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Bonifay how Ubigi helps streamline connectivity. Bonifay: Users can connect all their devices to the internet via the Ubigi SIM card provided with their vehicle. The SIM card also enables the navigation and connectivity features of their vehicle’s infotainment system. Ubigi transforms the driving and passenger experience, as users maximize their vehicle’s capabilities, staying connected, informed and entertained. Furthermore, car OEMs can send software updates in “push” mode, fully transparent to the end users. Ubigi’s network identifies vehicle model, specs, and local market upon first connection to automatically load the appropriate initial data plan. This capability enables the use of a single stock of SIM cards. The data plan catalogue display is dynamic and adapts to the local market.
AI: How do you see Ubigi changing the face of connected cars for both OEMs and consumers? Bonifay: Transatel’s platform and associated services offers the advantage of serving both car-centric, as well as passengercentric applications thus covering all a connected car’s needs from the same platform, including mandatory security services such as eCall, bCall, etc. From a car-centric standpoint, Transatel has been supplying M2M/telematics connectivity since 2011.
The company also has an MVNO activity track-record of over 19 years, which counts for extensive marketing, regulatory, and service experience in the commercialization of connectivity to end users worldwide. At the other end of the spectrum, visible to the end-user, and therefore passenger-centric by design, is Ubigi, Transatel’s new brand for cellular services in the IoT. It is at the service of device manufacturers wishing to offer global, secure connectivity to their end users. It provides a solution for manufacturers which may not wish to become service providers themselves, negotiate roaming agreements and/or associate their brand name with a wireless service. For any device, operating via a single platform, Ubigi is their fully packaged, ready-to-go service for instant-on, plug & play connectivity anywhere in the world.
AI: How wide is your coverage? Bonifay: Ubigi benefits from coverage in more than 35 countries in Europe, including all EU member states – which means that you will not be charged roaming fees when you are driving between them. Ubigi’s network identifies vehicle model, specs, and local market upon first connection to automatically load the appropriate initial data plan. This capability enables the use of a single stock of SIM cards. The data plan catalogue display is dynamic and adapts to the local market. Ubigi operates seamlessly and consistently worldwide. That’s because Transatel leverages on the privilege of an international mobile network code (MNC 901-37), supported by agreements signed with more than 140 Mobile Network Operators around the world. More than two years of agile development at Transatel were needed to make Ubigi the most versatile, secure, dependable, flexible and costeffective cellular service on the market for the IoT today