Suna, today, launched its traffic messaging service for Sydney and Brisbane motorists, which has been available to Melbournians since late 2007.
A GPS-equipped Ford Falcon warns of a traffic incident ahead
GPS devices equipped with a TMC (Traffic Message Channel) receiver and a Suna subscription can either inform the user of any delays on their route or automatically route around any significant traffic.
Some products — usually higher-end models — from Mio, TomTom, Navman, Garmin, Pioneer and Navway come with a TMC receiver built-in and a Suna subscription. While lower-end models from those brands often have the receiver/subscription combo as an optional extra. Unlike some markets overseas, most notably the States, all Suna subscriptions are for the lifetime of the product.
The first car in Australia to work with traffic messaging in Australia will be Ford's Falcon. Sedan and ute models sold after 1 August and equipped with satellite navigation come pre-subscribed to Suna's service. According to company representatives upgrading and subscribing sat nav-equipped FG Falcons sold before 1 August is a fairly simple task for most dealers. Ford also claims that it is the first car maker in the country to offer the latest iteration, version 15, of the Whereis Australian maps.
Suna's service broadcasts digital, encrypted TMC (Traffic Message Channel) data containing traffic information, such as incidents and delays, as well as major events and other factors which may be of interest to motorists. These messages are piggybacked onto an existing FM radio station's signal — Mix 106.5 in Sydney and Gold FM in Melbourne — and received by GPS devices equipped with a TMC receiver and Suna subscription.
Traffic information is collated by Suna at the company's Melbourne headquarters before being fed out across its TMC networks in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Sources include roadside assistance providers, emergency management services, road work registries, special event organisers and tow truck dispatch services. However, the major component in Suna's traffic information jigsaw are the state road authorities, like the RTA in NSW and VicRoads in Victoria. They not only provide Suna with access to their traffic centres, but with live data from the sensor pads built into many roads which regulate traffic light timing. This data is then fed into Suna's traffic modelling software.
Traffic services have been widely available in Europe and America for several years now. Suna, however, claims that services overseas focus mainly on inter-city freeways and highways, whereas its service focuses more deeply on arterial roads. This, the company says, stems from the "highly urbanised" nature of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. CNET.com.au understands that Suna plans to extend TMC services to Perth, Adelaide and Canberra sometime in 2009.