Telia wants to connect your old car to the internet using 4G

Swedish carrier Telia has made its move on the connected car market, unveiling Sense, a service that offers in-vehicle wi-fi, remote monitoring and a host of other safety and maintenance alerts.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
Telia Sense app

Swedish carrier TeliaSonera has taken the wraps off Telia Sense, a new 4G service that can give any car made since 2001 connected car features.

Connectivity is fast becoming the norm for new vehicles, but there are a growing number of services vying to bring those same capabilities, such as remote monitoring, to older vehicles.

Telia Sense, announced today, is one of them and will among other things offer owners of older vehicles a way to enable usage-based insurance thanks to a telematics device that will be available to plug into a vehicle's on-board diagnostics (OBD) port.

It's been mandatory in the EU since 2001 for manufacturers to fit vehicles with an ODB so there are plenty of vehicles on the road that could be fitted with the device.

In this case, Telia's SIM-fitted telematics unit is attached to the OBD II port. It's similar to services like Vinli in the US, which also offers 4G connectivity. The key difference is that Telia will be providing the device and network. Sense devices connect to Telia's cloud and Sense subscribers view vehicle diagnostics from a smartphone app.

Indeed, it's the 4G connectivity that makes Sense standout from the many available diagnostic adaptors on the market.

According to Telia, Sense will allow real-time diagnostics on the vehicle while owners will be told when the car needs maintenance or repairs via a range of notifications. It will also provide a driver journal and a snapshot of routes taken, distance travelled and fuel efficiency.

The app gives drivers an "eco grade" alongside how many litres of fuel per 100km they've used as well as a "green driving" score and feedback on whether a driver has caused a risk to themselves or others. Meanwhile, the always-on 4G wifi network should alleviate the hassles of tethering multiple tablets and devices during road trips.

Thanks to the 4G connection, parents will be able to remotely monitor their teenager's driving habits or use the same feature to monitor whether the car has been broken into, bumped by another car when parked or moved.

Sense users will be able to configure which aspect of their vehicle they want to receive notifications about, such as flagging when doors or windows have been left open, or doors left unlocked, and a low fluid level alert, insurance renewal reminders, and dangerous driving alerts.

Sense isn't quite ready to launch though with key details still under wraps and only a prototype device to show. However, the company is committed to the plan, scheduling its release in Sweden in the summer of 2016, followed by other Nordic and Baltic markets.

A Telia spokesperson was unable to answer questions about the price of the service, nor whether there would be an installation fee, however Sense will be sold as a monthly subscription.

Telia has secured key partners for the Swedish market, including local insurance company Folksam, and local car retailers Bilia. Meanwhile, the connected car platform itself is provided by Swedish IoT firm Springworks, in which Telia recently made a strategic investment.

Other things going for the service is the relatively low cost of 4G subscriptions in Sweden, good coverage and decent speeds. Telia's 20GB 4G plan for example costs 199 SEK (about 20 euros) a month. According to OpenSignal, Telia delivers on average 12.5 Mbs speeds across with a strong signal for the vast majority of populated locations.

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