Verizon's vaunted telematics solutions don't disappoint
Verizon Telematics is a division of Verizon Communications Inc. While the company is best known for its broadband, wireless and telecommunications services for customers, businesses and government, its Enterprise Solutions division provides a diverse portfolio of business services to auto manufacturers and dealers, as well as supporting medicine, cloud services, network security, and expanded fleet management capabilities.
Verizon Telematics built upon technologies which were first developed by Hughes Telematics Inc. Founded in 2006, the Atlanta-based company employed 374 people at its peak. However, after six years of success Hughes was absorbed by Verizon.
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Past Hughes Telematics Partnerships
Hughes had a partnership with Chrysler in the late 2000's that led to innovative telematics equipment and applications being offered as options in a number of Jeep and Dodge vehicles; that partnership ended when Chrysler entered bankruptcy.
Mercedes likewise offered Hughes systems to their customers under the Mbrace brand, a partnership that would continue after the company was acquired by Verizon. Hughes systems also found their way into Volkswagen cars starting in 2011. That year also saw Hughes open an office in Japan in hopes of gaining a foothold among Japanese automakers.
In partnership with Sierra Wireless, Hughes Telematics also developed InDrive, an aftermarket consumer telematics system designed to take advantage of cars' OBD-II diagnostic port. The company would later develop the system that was the backbone of State Farm Insurance’s Drive Safe & Save program.
Hughes Telematics, Inc. provided Machine to Machine (M2M) voice and data communications for car drivers. Their services were broadly comparable to those offered by GM's OnStar and other, similar, vendors. In addition to roadside assistance and a navigation suite, offerings included crash and incident notifications, location-based traffic and weather, infotainment, and social networking.
However, some options would also be recognizable to an experienced fleet manager, including fuel usage, fuel usage and prices, vehicle diagnostics, and driver behavior monitoring.
Verizon’s Acquisition of Hughes Telematics, Inc.
In 2011, Kevin Link -- then Hughes' SVP of marketing -- explained to tech website Mashable that Hughes Telematics was already hard at work on the next generation of telematics. Alongside interactive voice recognition and live agent support, in-vehicle head units, smartphone apps, and web portals were scheduled for deployment.
On May 1, 2012, Verizon announced that it would acquire Hughes Telematics for $12 per share. Closed in August of that year, the deal was worth an estimated 612 million dollars, which at the time was nearly three times Hughes' market value. At the time, Verizon's telematics business was in its infancy, and the acquisition of Hughes Telematics opened new vistas for the company.
John Stratton, President of Verizon Enterprise Solutions, explained at the time that Verizon was looking beyond automotive and fleet telematics. That prediction turned out to be prescient, as the years since have seen Verizon expand on the foundations built by Hughes Telematics into healthcare and home automation.
While Hughes Telematics specialized in bringing consumers the kind of metrics and functionality that had previously been the province of commercial fleet management, Verizon has since expanded on Hughes' offerings to the healthcare and fleet management sectors. These include:
- In-Drive, which maintains the name and feature set of Hughes Telematics' signature product
- Lifecomm, a system that leverages patient data to improve healthcare service and outcomes
- Networkfleet, Verizon's fleet management solution
- OEM White Label Solutions, thanks to Verizon's partnerships with vehicle manufacturers
As a brand and as a company, Hughes Telematics Inc. has been thoroughly absorbed into Verizon's Telematics and Fleet Management divisions. However, Verizon Telematics' products are in many cases the fruit of research and development put in motion in the years leading up to the Hughes acquisition. The company may have been derided, then largely forgotten except as a footnote in Verizon's history, but it has proven to have an influence that belies its size and reputation.