Verizon calls for telematics standards

Verizon, one of the world’s biggest telecommunications companies, has called for a standardisation of hardware and software in the telematics industry and said one of the biggest reasons that machine to machine platforms like telematics weren’t seeing much faster uptake, was because of a lack of just that, standards.

Looking at the IT industry as a whole, Verizon telematics executive Alida Fazlagic, said that you can find standards in all aspects, like networking and IT infrastructure, but that in machine to machine industries like telematics, it was severely lacking.

“Service providers have to be innovative, and be software developers as well until standards are there, and software packages are there to fulfill needs,” she continued. As it stands, there’s so many variables in customer information alone, that making sure that there’s a standardised notification platform in telematics, is so deathly important. 

“We thought it was complicated when each customer had a physical address,” she said. “Then mobile devices required decoupling [and] now the problem has become much more complicated with a lot more entities to deal with and a lot more relationships to manage. If you don’t get them right, you’ll find yourself in a position of not being able to support a new innovative service your business has defined.”

Verizon's telematics business was developed from Hughes Telematics

Verizon’s telematics business was developed from Hughes Telematics

Joining the company back in 2012, Fazlagic was charged with making telematics work as part of Verizon’s overall business strategy, which isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do for a company that’s traditionally been focused on broadband and telecommunication. While that does strenuously link to telematics, it’s not something that the company as a whole was built around. Still, Fazlagic couldn’t flounder, as her new bosses had just spent $612 million to acquire Hughes Telematics, the company she was now charged with integrating.

While she’s far from saying that she isn’t up to the task – something tells us she wouldn’t still be there if she hadn’t been doing something right – Fazlagic said to LightReading, that the real problem is that customers don’t have a standard package, they’re all individual. Some big companies like Audi and Mercedes Benz want Verizon to provide everything, from the telematics hardware itself, to the call centre management, data analytics and to even deal with end user problems. Others however only want the analytics side of things, or for Verizon to provide the data collection. It’s all handled by ear, per customer, which is exhausting.

Verizon may even have to support multiple hardware solutions, as insurance companies that want to use Verizon’s data collection and analytics, have their own hardware provided by another third party. Making sure these all work correctly is very difficult and puts a constant strain on staff.

“Given the challenges imposed by this, we are giving a lot more thought to standardization, to decoupling services, and BSS/OSS to be better prepared to entertain additional requirements that will be challenges along this road,” Fazlagic concluded.

Fortunately it seems that standards are coming, slowly but surely. As the more dominant companies take over smaller firms, or push them out of the industry and more manufacturers install telematics at the manufacturing stage, we probably only have a few more years of this limbo before we start to see very typical telematics hardware and software emerge, right alongside best industry practices to give us something more typical, regardless of the company providing it to the end user.

    Jon Martindale

    Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.

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