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Russia Tries to Put the 'Date' Back in eCall Mandate

by Roger Lanctot | 11月 25, 2011

The European Commission is targeting 2015 for final eCall implementation by car makers. Russia has set a firm December 2013 as the date for implementation of its own eCall system. The Russian system, though compatible with the European eCall mandate, adds an SMS backup capability to the data-over-voice transmission of the required minimum set of data along with a national call center for dispatching the calls to public service access points.

Car makers attending the recent Telematics Update event in Munich expressed some dismay at the speed at which they are expected to accommodate the Russian mandate.  OEMs are more accustomed to mandates such as the European Commission’s own eCall solution or even Brazil’s Contran 245 stolen vehicle tracking and immobilization initiative, both of which have seen serial delays. 

The postponement of mandates in the EU and Brazil has been driven by the foot-dragging of member states and interested parties (in Europe) and by a combination of OEM delaying tactics and technical issues (in Brazil).  In a bid to clear up any confusion and nail down a firm implementation date, the European Commission issued a directive for mobile network operators in Europe admonishing member states to ensure that MNOs implement the eCall flag.

The EU said that member states should require their public authorities to report measures taken in response to the EU recommendation by March 2012.  The expectation is that if member states show compliance with the recommendation by 2012, the EU will be satisfied that this step in the eCall implementation process has been taken.  If not, the Commission will immediately issue a directive or a regulation to force member states to comply by 2015 in order to match the timing of the in-vehicle deployments intended for 2015.

The EU’s challenge is bringing four major constituencies into alignment including member states, public service access points, car makers and network operators.  France and the United Kingdom are the two largest states that have chosen not to sign the eCall memorandum of understanding.  The UK has established its own national PSAP dispatch solution.

The EU is leading an effort to bring PSAP’s into compliance with the ability to receive eCall messages.  The success of the European eCall mandate will be measured by its ability to reduce accident response times by 40% and the anticipated saving of 2,500 lives per year.  A status report on the PSAP upgrade effort is expected early in 2012.

In Brazil, the Contran 245 mandate calls for the implementation of an interoperable SIM card in an embedded module which will allow for the tracking and immobilization of stolen vehicles.  This program is intended to reduce theft rates and insurance costs.  The mandated device, when it arrives in cars, will be the first interoperable SIM in the world. 

Beyond the Contran 245 legislation, the Brazilian government’s participation in the service will be limited to certifying hardware and service providers, maintaining a database of installed devices and the correlated service providers, and handling the provisioning of service including switching between service providers.  The Contran 245 standard is set to take effect at the end of 2011, but dozens of OEMs, hardware, software and service suppliers polled by Strategy Analytics after a recent industry gathering in Sao Paulo said they anticipate a further six-month delay will be announced (the eighth) at the end of 2011 meaning implementation will occur no sooner than June 2012.

Meanwhile, Russia has said December 2013 is the date that its mandate takes effect, period.  There is, for now, no sign of any delay, although there are issues for international service providers seeking to integrate the Russian system with existing telematics services.  Industry sources say Russian regulators are insisting that personal and vehicle information are not to leave Russia.  It is unclear how service providers will be able to comply with this requirement and/or whether it will lead to delays.  A representative of the government joint venture, NIS Glonass, reported at the Telematics Update event in Munich two weeks ago that 2012 is intended to be a period of pilot projects in Russian with implementation set for 2013.

While it will be refreshing to see a mandate actually keep to its deadline, the flexibility of Brazil and the European Commission reflect the challenges of bringing the automotive and mobile industries together to agree on and implement a single standard.  The Russian government’s controlling interest in public infrastructure enables a more rigid implementation timetable.  That scenario has implications for China and other similar political entities, where market conditions can be immediately and directly impacted by government fiat.


Technological decisions that are made based on competitive market forces are more reliable than government mandates in motivating organizations.  The Euro NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) is an example of a reward program intended to motivate car makers to enhance and more widely install advanced safety systems.

Given the infrastructure and hardware requirements of automatic crash notification, the European Commission may have been more successful in spurring innovation and competition by specifying the eCall program objectives without specifying the technology to be used.  In Brazil, where the government is wrestling with an intractable stolen vehicle problem, the need for a government-led solution was unique, but, again, might have been more effective by specifying the objective rather than the entire hardware solution.

The ambitious nature of both the Brazilian and European mandates has contributed to delays.  The shortcomings of the government driven approach in Brazil has had several negative impacts including:

1.      The expectation that car thieves will quickly reverse engineer and defeat the mandated module;

2.      The fact that suppliers have bid the price of the module down so far – in hopes of cashing in on the mandate by winning as much business as possible - as to make it an unattractive market opportunity;

3.      The lack of a competitive proposition that might guarantee a path to the future enhancement of the existing solution to accommodate new technological or market realities.

The positive aspects of the Brazilian solution, including the use of an interoperable SIM, outweigh the negative elements.  And given Brazil’s recent record of innovation in the area of wireless technologies in transit-related applications there is an expectation that Contran 245 will serve as a vehicle for the delivery of additional services and applications to cars.

As for Russia, only time will tell if the Russian Federation can show the world how to rigidly implement an automotive mandate.  But the moral of the story for decision makers considering future safety mandates is to enable competitive forces to drive innovation rather than narrowly defining technical solutions - European eCall Mandate Aims Low, Falls Short - Lanctot - Automotive Multimedia & Communications

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