Satellite comm for smaller fleets

Sept. 1, 1998
Qualcomm designs service for the small carrierQualcomm Inc. hopes to build on the success of its OmniTRACS satellite communications service by offering a simpler, but similar system that would provide smaller fleets with two-way messaging and real-time vehicle tracking at a lower cost. Called TruckMAIL, the product is designed for small fleets with manual dispatch systems that want satellite-based

Qualcomm designs service for the small carrier

Qualcomm Inc. hopes to build on the success of its OmniTRACS satellite communications service by offering a simpler, but similar system that would provide smaller fleets with two-way messaging and real-time vehicle tracking at a lower cost. Called TruckMAIL, the product is designed for small fleets with manual dispatch systems that want satellite-based wireless communications but that don't require the more complex and expensive software integration features offered by OmniTRACS.

Instead, TruckMAIL is based on new fleet-management software designed to run on a standalone PC and uses the Internet for the fleet connection to Qualcomm's communications hub. Patterned after basic e-mail programs like Eudora, the software gives dispatchers a simple graphical interface that allows them to communicate quickly with drivers, as well as locate and track any or all vehicles in the fleet.

Like OmniTRACS, TruckMAIL offers ubiquitous, or complete, coverage throughout the United States. Onboard hardware for sending and receiving free-form messages is expected to sell for $2,500 to $2,900 per tractor, or about $1,300 less than the OmniTRACS hardware. The Windows-based software for TruckMAIL will cost about $2,500. Since it uses the same communications network as OmniTRACS, TruckMAIL's monthly communications charges will also be the same, running on average about $50 a month per truck for 180 messages.

In addition to basic messaging and tracking, the small-fleet system can also accommodate popular OmniTRACS options such as CabCARD e-mail, and can be upgraded to the full OmniTRACS system as a smaller fleet expands.

Scheduled to begin shipping in early October, TruckMAIL will be sold by Qualcomm directly. A "satellite in a box" package will include all the necessary hardware, video instructions for installation, and software that can run on any Pentium PC with Windows 95/98 /NT.

TruckMAIL will also be distributed by Penske Truck Leasing, which will offer the system as an option to its leasing customers.

MobileTRAK from ETE Inc. is a fleet dispatch and tracking package designed to operate over the BellSouth Wireless Data terrestrial network.

The package's PC-based software automates vehicle tracking and dispatching, as well as two-way messaging. It supports a variety of commercial mapping formats and multiple views with resolutions down to street level.

The wireless communications is handled by RIM's Inter@ctive Pager 900, a palm-size mobile data terminal with a full keyboard. The MobileTRAK system also includes a GPS (global positioning satellite) receiver for real-time vehicle position reports.

FleetVision 3.0 fleet tracking and management software from Trimble Navigation Ltd. supports automated vehicle location and mobile data communications over a variety of wireless networks including MAP27 trunked radio, circuit-switched AMPS cellular, CDPD, and GSM. The Windows 95/NT software can also be used as a standalone fleet management package.

The Trucking System (TTS) version 4.5 from TMW Systems is Year 2000 compliant and also includes a variety of major new features, as well as improved performance. The updated fleet management package for PC networks also includes new interfaces for EFS, Gasboy d800, and Transplatinum fuel services, as well as ALK PC Miler V.12 and Rand McNally Guide 17 mileage databases and Abrapay payroll software.

ORBCOMM has launched eight more satellites, giving it 20 in its LEO (low-Earth orbit) wireless data communications network. Once the new satellites are operational, the network will increase communications availability in the U.S. from 9 to 17 hours a day. The company plans to launch another eight satellites later this year.

TRAKIT, a fleet tracking and management system from IDA Corp., now offers detailed, annotated maps for the major Canadian provinces. The system sends GPS location information and other vehicle data over trunked radio, cellular, or satellite wireless networks. It also includes software for analysis of fleet operations.

Torrey Science Corp. has changed its name to Torrey Communications. The company develops, manufactures, and markets wireless communications equipment, including untethered trailer tracking transceivers for the ORBCOMM LEO communications satellite system.

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