By Russ Steele
One of the essential G5 marketing messages is that autonomous vehicles will require broadband access to function in automated mode. Today, when your Tesla rolls off the production line, it comes equipped with an AT&T Smartphone built-in, providing internet connectivity. Tesla owner vehicles are in constant communication with Central Control, which is collecting data while you drive. It is providing you relevant traffic information and in some cases entertainment, when parked for a charge.
So, high-speed internet connectivity is an essential element of Tesla autonomous vehicle operation. The Telcos are promoting 5G as the solution. Is there another solution? Perhaps low latency internet from low earth-orbiting satellites. SpaceX is planning to launch 12,000 Starlink LEO satellites covering the planet with “fiber network like services.” Elon Musk’s Tesla vehicles equipped with Starlink internet might not need 5G for autonomous mode, for entertainment, for offering other services like real-time insurance monitoring.
Tesla offers some unique insurance options when it can observe all your driving habits when Central Control has HD TV recordings of all collisions and other roadside accidents. When the reporting systems can detect and warn you of future mechanical failures or roadside hazards. Insurance pricing can be based on your specifics behavior rather than statistical guesses by data analysis. Insurance could be a potential revenue stream for Tesla via Starlink.
What kind of entertainment could a Starlink provide? Indeed streaming music for normal driving and possibly streaming video for autonomous driving vehicles. These could be existing services like Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora or Netflix, and Amazon Video. Or, it could be by SpaceX Entertainment, producing yet another revenue stream for Elon Musk’s digital empire.
With your Tesla connected to a Starlink network and an in-vehicle WiFi, it would be simple to use a tethered device to make calls on your Tesla and any other nearby Tesla with access to the sky. Unfortunately, Starlink needs line of sight access to the LEO satellites So, why does a Tesla owner need 5G? They probably don’t, as 5G will not work in a parking garage either.
Do you think that a Starlink integrate Tesla has been part of Elon Musk’s plan from the beginning? A desire to become his own Telco? To open an App Store that sells the genius of Tesla owners and developers via Starlink. The potential revenue streams are huge!