Handsets for drivers gaining ground

One of the fastest-growing areas in the commercial telematics market revolves around driver use of GPS-enabled mobile handsets, according to a study by the Oyster Bay, NY-based consulting firm ABI Research. The key application for the devices is sending basic driver and load status information via mobile phone to a centralized server so fleet managers may better organize their field workers and make

One of the fastest-growing areas in the commercial telematics market revolves around driver use of GPS-enabled mobile handsets, according to a study by the Oyster Bay, NY-based consulting firm ABI Research.

The key application for the devices is sending basic driver and load status information via mobile phone to a centralized server so fleet managers may better organize their field workers and make their operations more efficient, says Frank Viquez, ABI's director of transportation research.

“Just a couple of years ago, handset-based commercial telematics services were a niche application offered in North America by only one major carrier,” Viquez notes. “Now they are now becoming an increasingly popular and lucrative business for wireless carriers and application service providers (ASPs) alike.”

He adds that many handset services are being offered as an add-on component to existing voice and data plans through such carriers as Rogers Wireless, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.

However, integrated in-cab hardware still offers a deeper level of functionality for fleets, partially including remote diagnostics, driver hours-of-service reporting, cargo monitoring and additional choices in wireless communications links, Viquez points out.

“GPS-enabled handsets are ideal for small- to mid-sized fleets looking for a simple and lower-cost means of communicating with drivers, determining their status for dispatching, time-sheet reporting, navigation, and exception-based alerts,” Viquez says. “However, fleets must remember that such services delivered by way of the handset are by no means a comprehensive solution and can never replace embedded hardware.”

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