BMW looks into satellite-based Internet service


Munich, Germany — The BMW Group can look to space to keep connected cars online.

The German automaker is considering plans to introduce satellite-based internet access in its sedans and crossovers, said Stephan Durach, senior vice president of development for Connected Companies at the BMW Group.

Customers always expect a stable internet connection, Durach said in a media briefing here last month.

So-called non-terrestrial network technologies offer the possibility of seamless connectivity and BMW is evaluating potential future applications and partnerships.

“We are looking at satellite communications, especially in environments with poor cellular reception,” Dulac said. “A lot of places in Europe and America don’t have good coverage.”

Robust in-vehicle internet connectivity is a critical factor as automakers rely on over-the-air software updates to unlock features and deliver digital services such as video streaming.

But for now, high costs and limited data transmission capacity make satellite-based Internet services a “last resort,” said Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst at Guidehouse Insights.

“In the middle of Nebraska, where there is no cell coverage, and there is a breakdown or battery power failure, the satellite connection will allow us to send messages for roadside assistance,” said Abuelsamid. “It’s safe.”

Abuelsamid does not yet believe that automakers will rely on satellite connectivity for vehicle data transmission.

“Most of the data that car manufacturers want to transmit is not time sensitive,” he said. “They can cache it until the car is back in wireless coverage.”



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