Verizon Connect unites all the operator’s fleet management activities

Verizon has shored up its activities in the commercial fleet management field by unifying its diverse operations into a single subsidiary – Verizon Connect. The MNO has been in the shadow of its arch-rival AT&T in the connected car department, which is partly why it has focused more strongly on commercial flight management. This is one of the original business applications of mobile telephony dating back to the 1980s, but has expanded beyond basic location tracking and voice communications into advanced navigation, optimization and pre-emptive remote maintenance.

Verizon decided to focus more strongly on commercial fleet management by going further up the protocol stack with complete packages that include applications software as well as basic communications. It has been quietly expanding in the field through both internal development and acquisition, bringing in three specialists in commercial vehicle software – Telogis, Fleetmatics and Movildata, now united within Verizon Connect.

These three firms are much the same, offering fleet management on a SaaS (Software as a Service) basis. They just cover different geographical areas, first in being California based developer of telematics and fleet logistics systems Telegosis, whose customers include Ford and General Motors.

Then came Fleetmatics, acquired for $2.4bn in November 2016, based in Dublin, Ireland. Founded in 2004 it offers web-based and mobile application packages providing fleet operators with information on vehicle location, speed, mileage and fuel usage, as well as job scheduling and workflow solutions. Finally, in January 2018 Verizon acquired Movildata Internacional, based in Murcia, Spain, providing fleet management across southern Europe.

Verizon’s first significant expansion in fleet management activities came in 2013 through acquisition of Hughes Telematics for $612m, chiefly to acquire the Hughes network fleet business. While the sums paid for Telegosis and Movildata were not disclosed,  Verizon says it has now invested at least $5bn on its fleet management portfolio, all of which are now part of Verizon Connect.

The strategy has already been successful in so far that by sheer dint of the acquisitions it is now world number one in terms of vehicles managed, now approaching 1.9m across over 80,000 customers, so averaging around 24 cars per fleet.

Apart from the wholly owned subsidiaries Verizon has several key partners for connected vehicles, such as worldwide mobile connectivity provider Globetouch, in which it has a stake. Globetouch itself partners with local MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) in all principle countries, connecting these together in a worldwide ecosystem served by data centers to provide connectivity services aimed at any business operating in more than one country. It handles the business and technical arrangements underlying roaming for customers ranging from car OEMs such as General Motors (GM) to providers of consumer devices like Hewlett Packard.

GM is in fact Verizon’s most notable client on the connected car side. In July 2017, it won a contract in partnership with Globetouch to help upgrade GM’s OnStar connectivity car services. This involved providing higher speed mobile connectivity and regulatory compliance for OnStar services.

Globetouch is now likely to be providing connectivity for Verizon Connect in fleet management where the vehicles cross borders regularly, which is a common requirement in this sector, especially for many of the European customers.

Verizon Connect is now hoping to boost revenues from its move up the stack through higher level software. This includes critical aspects such as managing cold-chain integrity to ensure perishable items like frozen foods as well as vaccines and certain chemicals remain sufficiently cold during the various stages of transportation. Verizon has also been working on improved diagnostics for fuel efficiency and efficient maintenance, as well as gamified apps enabling fleets to reward drivers for safety and efficiency.