Vodafone accelerates connected car strategy with Volkswagen deal

Vodafone announced a new agreement with Volkswagen and Audi in Europe to provide connected car services through embedded global SIM cards, starting with new Audi models from 2015.

Like many operators, Vodafone is seeking new opportunities in the machine-to-machine (M2M) field and has highlighted connected cars as a major area of focus. This was evident at the recent Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, where a number of connected cars were on display, including an in-car TV demonstration by Telefónica and U.S. carmaker Tesla.

Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo also demonstrated a new in-car user interface from Apple, named CarPlay, at this week's Geneva International Motor Show.

Audi already provides a connect portfolio that currently includes in-car navigation, communications and infotainment services together with a WLAN Hotspot. Vodafone noted that in 2013 the Audi S3 also became the company's first model to integrate an LTE-capable infotainment system.

"As a result of this agreement, we will strengthen further our position in the automotive sector--one of the key markets for M2M communication," commented CEO of Vodafone Machine-to-Machine, Erik Brenneis. "Our efficient mobile communications networks ensure that the networked car is becoming more and more widespread, including across European national borders."

Vodafone added that its global SIM will be widely installed in vehicles in future and will use the Vodafone network and global M2M service platform to provide customers with high-speed Internet access on the road. It also noted that the SIM chip was specifically developed to meet the stringent quality requirements of the automobile industry and functions reliably at temperatures from -40° to +85° Celsius. The activation and service processes were designed by Vodafone and based on Volkswagen Group's specific requirements.

Meanwhile in a separate Vodafone deal, Huawei said it has become the latest beneficiary of Vodafone's Verizon Wireless windfall, as the Chinese vendor has just won a five-year deal under the operator's £7 billion (€8.5 billion) Project Spring network investment programme.

Huawei follows Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN) and Ericsson, which each won a five-year deal during MWC.

The Chinese company said its remit is to expand the Single Radio Access Network (SingleRAN) across the world during the first phase of the programme. Huawei said it will deliver a number of network enhancement projects including products and services for Vodafone radio access networks in the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Romania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, DRC and Ghana.

The deal further underscores Huawei's growing standing in Europe, despite security concerns that have seen the company effectively blocked out of markets such as the U.S.

For more:
- see this Vodafone release
- see this Huawei release

Related Articles:
Apple lines up in-car entertainment with Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and others
Google launches Open Automotive Alliance to push Android into connected cars
Ericsson, AT&T team on connected cars
Vodafone picks Ericsson, NSN for Project Spring deals
Vodafone enters post-Verizon era at half its market value
Vodafone hits 500,000 UK LTE users, extends LTE roaming to 18 countries

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