Based on the technology of Applied Generics, a Scottish start-up acquired by TomTom in 2006, HD Traffic uses raw, anonymous GSM signaling data made available through a partnership between TomTom and Vodafone Netherlands. This data is compared and merged with information from traffic authorities, road operators, and commercial third parties. Additionally a dedicated TomTom traffic centre and operations facility allows to monitor the quality of the service. The TomTom HD receiver includes a wireless modem and a SIM card from Vodafone for real time connection to the TomTom traffic servers.
Users of the TomTom HD traffic will receive updates every three minutes, compared to every 5 to 30 minutes for RDS TMC (which uses the narrower bandwidth of the FM radio) according to a TomTom white paper. In addition, TomTom claims its HD Traffic covers at least ten times more roads in the Netherlands (22,000 kms) than existing traffic information systems.
The TomTom ONE XL HD Traffic will be available in shops in the Netherlands in the course of November 2007 and includes a 12 months High Definition Traffic subscription. The recommended retail price of the TomTom ONE XL HD Traffic is Euro 399. The High Definition Traffic subscription can be renewed for 9.95 euro per month, including costs for the live data connection. An accessory that enables current TomTom users to receive High Definition Traffic information will be launched early 2008.
Harold Goddijn, chief executive officer at TomTom said, “We are looking forward to expanding our High Definition Traffic offering to other European countries in 2008.” TomTom said it will launch the same service in the United Kingdom with Vodafone in the first half of 2008. Harold Goddijn expects to provide the service to more than 50% of TomTom’s European customers by the end of 2008.
In launching its HD traffic solution at €399, TomTom does not position it at the highest price in its product range (its TomTom Go 720 cost €449). A one year free subscription will provide time for its customers to get addicted to it and easily renew their subscription after twelve months.
In choosing an external receiver and a single subscription model (traffic information plus cost of data), TomTom offers a user friendly solution to its customers that is also highly scalable across all its product range and installed base. At this stage TomTom did not disclose which products will be compatible with the HD Traffic accessory but we can bet most of them will be – in the same way its other technology Map Share is now available to all TomTom PNDs.
IntelliOne, a U.S. company that has developed a technology similar to Applied Generics, last week announced an agreement to provide Rogers Wireless with its Live!Traffic service across Canada. “Live!Traffic, updated every thirty seconds, will also be made available to transportation, media, fleet and personal navigation channels”, said IntelliOne. In the United States another company called Airsage has partnered with wireless operator Sprint and has deployed its solution in over 25 markets. The company is also working on a pilot project with Navteq/Traffic.com.
TomTom is certainly not the only company to have built such technologies, but it is certainly the first to make it available in a consumer product and to have the size to offer wireless operators a compelling business case for sharing their network information.