The in-cab mobilecomm devices trucking companies have relied on as the primary connection to the truck and driver may soon be on life support.

Attendees at ATA MC&E, and other transportation-specific industry events this year, noticed some new players in the fleet management space offering telematics devices having a small form factor and no display screen. Don’t be fooled by these tiny “hockey puck style” devices; they provide telematics capabilities equal to or superior to the bulkier units common today - at a commodity price.

While a telematics solution with commodity pricing is attractive, trucking companies won’t be able to exploit this new generation of devices until they find an alternative solution for another key mobilecomm function - driver communication. For some, the answer is to create a mobile driver app for their fleet.

Such mobile driver apps have already been created by a number of companies. A few examples are U.S. Xpress, Inc., J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc., Transport America, Stevens Transport, Prime, Inc., Werner Enterprises, and TMC Transportation. A quick survey of the app store reviews show that drivers strongly prefer these apps for communication rather than in-cab mobilecomm devices.

By providing a superior driver communication solution through their mobile driver app, these companies now have the valuable option of replacing their legacy mobilecomm units with sleek, powerful, lower-cost telematics units.

All of this bodes well for trucking companies, who can expect to see exciting new products introduced in 2017 that will eliminate long-running frustrations associated with mobilecomm. If the current trend continues toward combining custom mobile driver apps with puck-style telematics devices, it could, indeed, lead to the death of mobilecomm as we know it.

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