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Verizon forms new industry group dedicated to hooking up cars with 4G LTE

Everyone agrees that it’s bad to surf the web while driving, but what if a car happens to double as a giant smartphone? Verizon is taking some steps toward making this happen as it has formed an industry group called the 4G Venture Forum for Connected Cars that includes several major auto manufacturers interested in bringing LTE connectivity to cars. BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Kia and Toyota are joining Verizon as the group’s initial members. The forum has also snagged Massachusetts Institute of Technology mechanical engineering professor Sanjay Sarma to provide guidance on academic technology research relevant to wireless tech and the auto industry. Hit the jump for the full release.

Verizon Joins With Leading Global Auto Companies To Establish 4G Venture Forum for Connected Cars

BASKING RIDGE, N.J., June 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Verizon today announced the formation of the 4G Venture Forum for Connected Cars, a group of leading global automotive companies brought together by Verizon to accelerate the pace of innovation across the automotive and telematics 4G LTE ecosystem.

BMW, Honda, Hyundai Motor Company, Kia Motors and Toyota Motor Sales, Inc. are joining Verizon as the initial members of the Forum.  Professor Sanjay Sarma of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also joins the Forum, providing members a link to track important advancements in related academic research.  The group will collaborate and explore ways to deliver connectivity to vehicles of all types, by leveraging open standards and discussing ways to accelerate development of the 4G LTE ecosystem across automotive OEMs, suppliers, device manufacturers, application developers and content publishers.

“There are many challenges to designing next generation telematics and infotainment solutions, including supporting safe and responsible driving, advancing vehicle-to-vehicle solutions and improving sustainability, among others,” said Tami Erwin, chief marketing officer for Verizon Wireless.  “As an innovator in the technology industry, Verizon is a natural impetus for this collaboration, which we all expect will include other companies and spur results that will benefit not only the industry, but millions of consumers around the world.”

Telematics is a growing opportunity that integrates telecommunications and information into vehicles to provide functionality to drivers and passengers.  The 4G Venture Forum for Connected Cars will help discover ways to increase the value of services, ranging from embedded cloud-connected solutions to mobile applications; help define features and explore safety systems; and encourage third-party developers in this space.

Verizon has a strong commitment to collaboration and innovation through its Innovation Program, and through the 4G Venture Forum, which was created in 2009 to identify and support new ideas related to advanced wireless networks and to provide market validation for innovative companies.  The 4G Venture Forum for Connected Cars complements and extends the approach of the 4G Venture Forum, focusing exclusively on the automotive space to address the specific needs of this growing market.

Verizon Wireless has the largest 4G LTE network, now available in 258 markets and covering more than two-thirds of the U.S. population.  The Forum may support and fund advancements regardless of underlying network technology; companies will not be obligated to work with Verizon and are not precluded from working with other service providers.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.