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Get ready for 4G-connected cars

Automotive supplier Continental announces its communications electronics package has made the jump to LTE.

Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Stephen Shankland
2 min read

Continental now is offering carmakers modules that will endow vehicles with 4G LTE networking.
Continental now is offering carmakers modules that will endow vehicles with 4G LTE networking. Continental

Smartphones are making the move to faster 4G networking, and your car could soon follow suit.

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Continental, the massive German automotive equipment supplier, announced on Thursday a new telematics module that brings 100Mbps LTE data connections to cars. That kind of technology can be used to retrieve maps for navigation systems, send streaming video to the kids in the back seat, listen to podcasts, and send crash reports to an emergency response service.

4G is now mainstream technology, bringing costs down, but 4G coverage rapidly disappears outside major urban areas even in countries like the US that have moved to it relatively aggressively. A potentially bigger barrier to adoption is that consumers are likely to balk at the idea of another expensive data-plan subscription -- not that carriers like AT&T aren't pushing for automotive networking.

Thus, significant obstacles still stand in the way of the computing and automotive industries' shared vision of the connected car. But if history is anything to go by, with computers and network access steadily spreading everywhere, it's likely only a matter of time before networked cars are an ordinary phenomenon.

Another push for the connected-car change could come from communication among vehicles (V2V) and from vehicles to infrastructure (V2I) like traffic signals. The 802.11p variation of Wi-Fi is designed for that V2V and V2I communication, and the US government is pushing for mandatory V2V communications.

The Continental module can accommodate that type of communication, too, the company said. It also can be configured to work with GPS or GLONASS sat-nav technology.

Continental has been working to capitalize on connected-car technology, including through a partnership with IBM for back-end data services, but a rumored deal with self-driving car leader Google hasn't come to pass.