Navman Wireless mulls satellite redundancy

Truck intelematics company may look to implement satellite connections as fail-over access method for logistics messaging and navigation devices

Logistics intelematics provider, Navman Wireless, is considering implementing a satellite connection as a redundancy access method for its line of truck GPS, navigation and messaging devices.

The company, which split from turn-by-turn navigation company Navman in 2007, currently has an agreement with Telstra to use the Next G HSPA network for messaging and back-to-base correspondence for its truck-based systems. Though Next G is widely considered the most expansive and best serving mobile network in Australia, it remains unable to retain full data connections to navigation systems used by the freight industry, which regularly move into remote locations outside of the network’s reach.

This is currently catered for by “forward installing” any data on the device that can’t be sent back to the logistics company’s headquarters, usually while the truck is out of range of a Next G tower.

However, Navman Wireless Asia Pacific vice president, Ian Daniel, told Computerworld Australia said that many of the company’s customers had asked about the possibility of using satellite as a replacement redundancy.

“The business case hasn’t been completely built yet,” Daniel said. “But from our side of the fence, because we actually design and manufacture the product, we’ve got the intellectual property in-house to do it. All we’d have to do is get our hands on a module and integrate it into the current device we’ve got.”

The satellite connection would prove handy when the truck driver needs to hit a “panic button” or alert the headquarters of specific information while outside of reception.

The data packets sent by Navman Wireless’ systems usually range in size from 140 bytes to around 2 megabytes of data, sent at regular intervals depending on the customer agreement. While the size and general speed of a satellite connection would not prove an issue, Daniel sad the latency often associated with the access method could still prove worrying.

The company is yet to enter into negotiations with satellite companies, but have identified key players in the market.

If they were to enter the market, Next G would still be used as a primary access method, with satellite for fail-over. Forward installation of data on the system’s cache would remain a feature.

Daniel was unable to provide a time frame on when the company would look to implement such a method.

“We’ll have a look at it from a priority perspective and say ‘is this something we want to pull the trigger on now?’”

The company, which started in New Zealand but was bought by a Chicago-based equity firm, has continued on a local hiring spree, adding seven new staff in the last year for a total Australian headcount of 22. Daniel said that with current market growth rates and recent deals with Telstra’s Enterprise and Government divsion, he could foreseeably double the number of total Australian staff in the next 12 months.

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