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Motorola takes big step towards the connected car

Motorola announces its X24 WiMax module, designed to connect cars to a WiMax network.

Motorola X24 module
Motorola's WiMax module is designed to connect cars to a WiMax network. Motorola

Motorola took a significant step towards commercializing WiMax for vehicles with the introduction of its X24 WiMax module. This module lets automotive-equipment makers build connected devices that can receive broadband information sources on the road. Just as Wi-Fi radically changed how we network our computers, WiMax specifications meet the connection needs for automobiles by having a range measured in miles and broadband throughput. Mobile WiMax is based on the 802.16e specification, and has been in development since 2001. As the standard gets accepted, more companies will develop WiMax-compatible chipsets.

We've seen cars from Acura, BMW, Cadillac, and Lexus that receive traffic information through radio or satellite networks, letting you see the trouble spots on the navigation system. The Lincoln MKS expands these information offerings with fuel prices, movie times, and weather. But these networks are one-way, so for the MKS to show you local fuel prices, it has to download an entire database, much of which you will never need. This is, at best, inefficient. Because the car can send its GPS coordinates through a WiMax network, the car would only need to download information relevant to its location. WiMax would also allow a vehicle-to-vehicle communication network, where, for example, a disabled car can send out a message to approaching vehicles that it is stopped in a freeway lane. Cars that receive this message can then warn their drivers of the hazard.