Sierra Wireless will use its AirPrime wireless modules to get faster connectivity into the car (Photo: Sierra Wireless)

HARMAN and Sierra Wireless are cooperating to make in-car infotainment systems connect faster with the world outside the vehicle.

Harman, a large audio and infotainment group, is teaming up with wireless module maker Sierra Wireless to speed up the use of the new, faster LTE -or 4G- mobile communication standard in cars. Road tests of production-ready infotainment systems using an LTE module will begin in Europe, with the US to follow.

Harman said test vehicles will use an infotainment platform with an AirPrime embedded wireless LTE module developed by Sierra Wireless. The two companies said LTE will mark a major mobile connectivity improvement that will make available a whole new range of in-car services.

Next-generation services will include off-board navigation, video-on-demand streaming, internet radio, dynamic loading apps, interactive online manuals and other telematics functions or new driver assistance features such as traffic light recognition, Harman said. All these applications will need higher bandwidth than is available today.

According to researchers Strategy Analytics, 95 pc of all vehicles will be equipped with connectivity solutions by 2012. That's up from 70 pc in 2010.

Harman and Sierra Wireless started to work together a year ago. Harman was the first automotive tier 1 supplier to integrate Sierra Wireless AirPrime LTE modules in its systems. The modules allow data download speeds of up to 100 Mbps and uploads as fast as 50 Mbps on LTE networks.

Manfred Schedl, vice president connectivity of Harman's infotainment division, said first prototypes of the company's LTE-enabled infotainment systems show peak data rates of up to 70 Mbit/second and average speeds of 20 Mbit/s in urban conditions.

Said Schedl: "This will enable us to push this technology into next-generation vehicle systems.”