Sierra Wireless to equip cars with HSPA in 2011

Richmond, B.C.-based Sierra Wireless Inc. is working on embedded modules that will allow car manufacturers to integrate HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access) and EV-DO Rev A into their vehicles, the company said on Wednesday.

The speeds offered by the AirPrime AR modules — up to 14.4M bps (bits per second) for downloads and 5.76M bps for uploads using HSPA — will be used for telematics, navigation and entertainment applications, according to Sierra Wireless.

To be able to cope with the inhospitable environment of a car, the modules have been developed to handle operating temperatures ranging from -40 to 85 degrees Celsius (-40 to 185 Fahrenheit) and also rapid changes in temperature.

Commercial shipments of the modules are expected to begin in the middle of next year, according to Sierra Wireless.

It’s obvious that mobile broadband in the future will be used for purposes other than connecting today’s smartphones, tablets and USB-modems, including for machine-to-machine communications, according to Peder Ramel, CEO at 3 Scandinavia. However, the challenge for operators will be how to charge for the new services, Ramel said.

Next week, Sierra Wireless will take part in Telematics Munich 2010, which is Europe’s biggest conference and exhibition for the digital in-car, mobile and Web industries, according to its Web site.

Earlier this month Sierra announced that multimode next generation LTE-enabled versions of its AirPrime MC PCI Express cards will be in network and mobile computing products early next year. The MC7750 module supports LTE, EV-DO and HSPA+ wireless networks, the MC7700 supports LTE, HSPA+ and GSM bands and the MC7750 LTE and HSPA+.
In an interview Andrew Greene, the company’s vice-president of marketing said initially the MC7750 is aimed at running on Verizon Wireless’s network in the U.S. where it will launch LTE service shortly, while the MC7700 has the capability to run on AT&T’s network there. AT&T will launch LTE service next year.  He wouldn’t say when the modules will be tuned for the bands on Canadian networks, where wireless carriers service have yet to commit to LTE launch dates.
AirPrime MC modules are aimed at laptops, networking equipment and machine-to-machine devices.
As for consumer devices, “you should expect to see some USB modems from hotspots from us in the near future.”
(With files from Howard Solomon, Network World Canada)

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