Rapid growth of the 4G LTE standard for high-speed data in mobile phones is expected to increase dramatically the demand for in-car connectivity.
"LTE in cars is a real game-changer," Markus Dietz, project manager for BMW's LTE development team, told Automotive News Europe.
He said the technology will offer in-car Internet connections that can be even faster than the high-speed connections currently available in most homes and offices.
When 3G, the previous standard, was introduced a decade ago it paved the way for a number of in-car applications, especially navigation systems. But it lacked the bandwidth required for many data-intensive infotainment apps, such as video-on-demand.
But 4G LTE, which is up to 10 times faster than 3G, will allow carmakers to offer apps that, until now, could only be used at home with cable or phone-line connections to the Internet.
"Cellular technologies such as 2G and 3G are adequate in providing the traditional navigation and emergency calling applications typically associated with a connected car," Josh Builta, an analyst for IHS Automotive, said. "However, LTE can deliver infotainment types of applications far better than these older technologies."
IHS Automotive forecasts that the number of LTE-connected cars worldwide will grow from 1.2 million in 2015 to 16 million in 2017.