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Larger Number Of Connected Cars Could Clog Up Data Networks

It is predicted that by 2024, machine-to-machine (M2M) connections will jump to 2.3 billion, a staggering increase from its current record of 250 million.

As a result, mobile networks may suffer from an overload brought about by the increased data traffic jams. Connected cars compete with smartphones, tablets and other vehicles for airwaves.

The research came from analyst firm Machina Research, which reiterated that mobile operators may have to deal with major problems, particularly during "rush hour," the time of the day when "certain cells" see an increase in data traffic by as much as 97 percent.

"Connected cars, as with other M2M devices, don't behave like smartphones," said Matt Hatton, CEO and founder of Machina Research. "They represent a very diverse set of challenges to operators through highly varying network traffic patterns at different times of the day."

The report also says the issue is not really about the volume of traffic but rather the resource management. M2M will make up only 4 percent of the traffic by 2024. However, a number of cell sites are expected to become overloaded at peak hours, caused by the seemingly overwhelming number of connections.

In order to meet the increased demand, the cell sites in question would have to be managed in order to accommodate everything, from smartphones to M2M without compromising service.

"If connected cars regularly cause network traffic spikes in a particular location that can't be met, there are implications for operators," added Hatton.

Compared to data usage of smartphones, M2M connections such as the ones that are used in cars consume data rather differently. For one, M2M doesn't place a high demand on networks since the connections do not involve same-time unanimous streaming of high-definition videos. Mapping and directions, one of the prominent features of connected cars, is not as data-intensive as video streaming.

However, the problem becomes more evident in certain geographic areas during peak times of the day. If a number of these connected cars are seen in one place, it will create saturation in the cell site.

The report then suggested that mobile network operators would have to begin planning more seriously about the matter.

"In terms of overall data volumes, connected cars don't present much of a problem," said Hatton.

It is also predicted that by 2020, one in five vehicles around the globe will have wireless network connectivity built into the system, according to Gartner, a technology research company.

The issue on data traffic will become more heavily felt when connected cars that are caught up in a traffic jam will have their Wi-Fi connections utilized rather aggressively by drivers seeking alternative routes. Passengers also contribute to the issue as they try to search for entertainment on phones and tablets to rid themselves of the boredom while waiting for the traffic situation to improve.

While it is believed that connected cars will be vital in the future as manufacturers promote car safety features in their products, they are also potential targets of hackers. Still, it hasn't stopped a number of companies to hop in and join the "car of the future" bandwagon. These include Google and Apple, which are working on such technologies.

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