Telia's Division X makes Sense available to unconnected old bangers

Features

Telia Company's new connected car solution is aiming to be a springboard for second-hand cars to take advantage of full mobility.

Its Sense solution, first trailed last year, has finally hit the market and offers a retrofit solution for existing vehicles that want to get connected.

Drivers plug a telematics unit into the On-Board Diagnostics port in a car, open the connected app and then can choose from a range of different services, including in-car Wi-Fi, insurance, and repairs. The unit costs SEK1495 (€153) along with a SEK99 (€10) monthly subscription fee.

Consumers can buy a 20GB per month data package, which Telia claims will be enough for 97 percent of its base. The product uses 2G, 3G and LTE connectivity across of Telia's Nordic and Baltic markets and consumers can top up data during a particularly intensive month. In the rare instances a car is out of cellular coverage, the CPU within the unit does some of the heavy lifting, although services like Wi-Fi understandably go dark.

Hans Dahlberg, VP Division X (IoT) at Telia Company, tells Mobile Europe the operator wanted to be as flexible as possible to reflect the variety of drivers on the road. He quickly spells out several types of drivers, all of whom could be served by Sense. One is using the connected platform for navigation, another an urban dweller keen to find parking spaces within their city, a third wishing to use the likes of Netflix to placate their children during long journeys.

He says: "The vast majority of cars are not connected. If you want to have a fully connected car today, you buy a Tesla. But not everyone can afford that. This provides a retrofit solution. The main market is for old cars."

Dahlberg says it needed to have several service providers within Sense before launching, explaining its long gestation. He says: "In terms of having relevance in the market you need to have discussions with different players in different ecosystems across both the enterprise and consumer sides."

The service providers pay for the privilege of connecting via Sense, with business models varying according to the volume and types of data used.

Sense is powered by Springworks' cloud-based connected car platform Spark, with Telia handling the data side. Springworks CEO Erik Ramberg says: “Operators understand the opportunity of connecting cars from several perspectives, mainly Usage Base Insurance, Wi-Fi, fleet management and providing car makers with connectivity. As a white label solution it enables operators to master the national connected car ecosystem as well as implement and monetise new digital strategies with service providers by selling them smart data.”

The issue of data and its ownership is critical for Dahlberg. He says: "We have to have a careful opt in process so they understand what the data is used for."

He adds: "Beyond even Telia Sense, the big MNOs need to look at how they communicate with customers in terms of privacy and data...Operators have a responsibility to safeguard consumer data. We need to put pressure on other service providers that use data to protect our own customers."

Telia expects the balance of its customer base to change over time as it starts making Sense available in earnest. The operator is predicting three quarter of its sales will come from third party channels, with the majority of those to consumers. Dahlberg says: "Over time that will become more balanced as more customers mean more service providers will become involved [and target more enterprise customers]."