How the future of EV charging - and travel - lies with mobile networks

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Indy Lifestyle Online

US electric car owners were last week given a better suggestion of what their charging network will look like with the announcement of a tie-up between Ecotality and mobile phone company Sprint.

Ecotality, which is a major provider of charging points (it plans to install nearly 15,000 across the US this year), announced January 14 that it will use Sprint's wireless network to connect all of its charging stations together.

Linking thousands of chargers together clearly has benefits for Ecotality in terms of being able to monitor usage and troubleshoot problems quickly, but it's likely to bring handy new services for consumers too.

Drivers using the Blink network will be able to locate available Blink charging stations, for instance, guided by GPS navigation from a smartphone or inside the vehicle itself.

They will also be warned of charge interruption and notified of a successful completion by the Blink charging stations, which Ecotality says will be able to communicate using wireless, LAN and ZigBee communication (a type of short range radio communication similar to Bluetooth).

Last week, Sprint also announced that it would be powering Hyundai's new Blue Link telematics system, another confirmation that the worlds of mobile communication and vehicles are becoming increasingly intertwined.

In a speech to the Detroit Economic Club January 14, Sprint's CEO Dan Hesse said that wireless technology is transforming transportation, for all types of vehicle regardless of the fuel they use.

"We want to provide 'Connected Transportation' to trucks, buses, subways, taxis, planes, police cars and ambulances so that they can be instantly linked through voice, data and images," said Hesse.

"These capabilities can turn a vehicle into a multi-dimensional communications center to improve driver performance, help reduce accidents, provide significant safety benefits, enhance fleet management logistics for businesses and have a potentially profound impact on environmental sustainability."

As the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas proved, however, Sprint isn't the only mobile network in the game - General Motors-owned OnStar demonstrated its own 4G system with the assistance of Verizon January 5.

Discover more about Ecotality's network: http://www.ecotality.com

See what GM OnStar and Verizon have planned: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqhNfr74lOs

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