Navigon will begin to offer free real-time traffic updates for life on all of its GPS units starting this fall. The company is looking to shatter the subscription model all together to offer traffic updates in 95 North American markets free of charge, effectively giving some 200 million Americans the opportunity to avoid a traffic situation via their navigation system.
The traffic update feature comes pre-installed on its GPS devices out-of-the-box without needing any additional hardware or software updates ever, according to a company press release. Other GPS providers require users to subscribe to a monthly fee, or purchase an additional traffic receiver unit as an add-on, while Navigon offers a no-stings-attached approach that they say should be a “category-changing” move.
The system works by using a built-in FM receiver that accesses the Total Traffic Network (TTN). The TTN is a collection of FM stations from major cities across the country that make up a central database of traffic information. The receivers search for any viable FM stations included in the network, and subsequently download any appropriate traffic information to the GPS device in real-time.
The company introduced this feature a while back on some of its higher-end devices, but proved so popular, the company wanted to offer it as standard equipment. “We were very excited to be the first to offer Free Lifetime Traffic last year and are thrilled to bring it to the next level,” says Andreas Hecht, NAVIGON’s president for the Americas. “We see traffic updates as being critical to the core navigation experience and felt it was very important to make it available across the entire product portfolio.”
I’ve had the chance to experience XM’s NavTraffic solution via Satellite Radio, but this option seems to be much more viable since its available on third-party navigation systems. Navigon is the latest addition to use the Total Traffic Network for traffic information. Both Garmin and TomTom use the network, as well as a few auto manufacturers such as BMW, MINI, and Volvo. The only problem I see is the fact that while it’s available in 95 US markets, that still leaves out a variety of major cities that could use it. For instance, there’s no coverage what so ever in the states of Iowa, Idaho, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and more. Still, it’s a welcomed improvement, and should push the industry in the right direction.