A new research paper has warned that driverless and connected cars stuffed with tech accessing mobile networks could lead to serious congestion on mobile networks as levels of machine-to-machine (M2M) data motor upwards.
According to Machina Research, mobile operators could face major traffic jams during "rush hour", when "certain cells' will get a 97 percent increase in data traffic (PDF).
"Connected cars, as with other M2M devices, don't behave like smartphones," said Matt Hatton, founder and CEO, Machina Research.
"They represent a very diverse set of challenges to operators through highly varying network traffic patterns at different times of the day."
Though operators are anticipating an increase, they may not be anticipating how big a deal it will be. The Machina report said that machine to machine connections will increase from 250 million this year to 2.3 billion in 2024.
It said that while the load from driverless cars is not particularly large, it may be more challenging to handle because it will be concentrated in specific areas.
"In terms of overall data volumes, connected cars don't present much of a problem. But network resource management is not based on total traffic volume, it's based on particular cell sites during peak times of network use," said Hatton.
"If connected cars regularly cause network traffic spikes in a particular location that can't be met, there are implications for operators in meeting service level agreements and delivering a positive quality of experience," he added.
While the network may suffer, the UK workforce will not. Research by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) in March found that the industry will create 320,000 jobs in the UK by 2030.
There are likely to be fewer road accidents too, according to the same report - a view that, perhaps not surprisingly, is shared by driverless car pioneer Google, which claims trials have shown the vehicles to be inherently safer than human-controlled cars.
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