Ericsson, Mannesmann to put WAP, Bluetooth in cars

Ericsson and Mannesmann are cooperating to produce mobile communication systems that will eventually use WAP (wireless application protocol) and Bluetooth to allow equipment in a car's cockpit to communicate with each other and the internet.

The alliance, formed between a subsidiary of the Swedish telecommunications company called Ericsson Mobile Communications AB and Mannesmann, will produce car information and entertainment systems including in-car internet terminals, faxes, stereo and video capabilities, and telematic equipment, said Karl-Horst Bockholt, director of public relations for German system supplier Mannesmann VDO. Telematic equipment provides traffic guidance with the use of telecommunications, said Bockholt.

Mannesmann VDO currently sells car cockpit equipment such as control panels, instrumentation, steering and other equipment to car manufacturers worldwide. Ericsson's role will be to add the mobile data and information transmission to those systems, said Bockholt. Also, Ericsson has been one of the main proponents of both WAP and Bluetooth, and the pair therefore plan to be the first on the market with in-car communication systems, using these technologies, according to Bockholt. Bluetooth is another emerging wireless standard backed by proponents such as Ericsson and Intel.

The products will be sold first in Europe, where WAP is expected to take off first, and will later expand to the US and Asia. The systems will be sold to vehicle manufacturers for cars, trucks and buses as well as to the automotive aftermarket, for car retrofits, said Bockholt.

Bockholt was unable to say how much the systems would cost, but expects systems such as these to soon be commonplace in cars. "It's the future of the motor vechicle. In five to 10 years, this will be standard equipment." The two companies are predicting that more than 10 million mobile terminals will be built into cars in Europe and the US by 2003.

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