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Verizon invests in connected automotive technology

Verizon is accelerating automotive innovation with a little help from its friends.

On Wednesday, the communications company announced its partnership with a number of global car companies, which will work together to "accelerate the pace of innovation" of the world's automotive and telematics system.

BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Kia and Toyota are joining Verizon as the initial members of the 4G Venture Forum for Connected Cars, along with Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Sanjay Sarma. The group will collaborate and explore further development of the 4G LTE ecosystem. "As an innovator in the technology industry, Verizon is a natural impetus for this collaboration," Verizon Wireless chief marketing officer Tami Erwin, said in a statement.

Early in June, Verizon announced its $612 million (£393 million) acquisition of Hughes Telematics, a firm that specialises in bringing connected services to vehicles. The deal will allow Verizon to expand its machine-to-machine connected applications, bringing the gap between phones and cars.

"We expect M2M and telematics to drive significant growth for Verizon and we're taking an important step forward to accelerate solutions that will unlock more opportunities for existing and new (Hughes Telematics, Inc.) and Verizon customers," John Stratton, president of Verizon Enterprise Solutions, said in a statement about the Hughes acquisition.

Telematics is an experiment in integrating information into vehicles to provide functionality to drivers and passengers, Verizon said. The Venture Forum, which was created in 2009, will work to discover ways to increase the value of services like cloud-connected solutions and mobile applications, as well as increased safety options.

"We all expect [this venture will...] spur results that will benefit not only the industry, but millions of consumers around the world," Erwin said. While Verizon is eying a worldwide automotive takeover, the company's rival AT&T is building a home automation service that will allow customers to remotely manage their home security. AT&T Digital Life lets users keep tabs on their home from any PC, tablet or smartphone platform.

Verizon's 4G LTE network is now available in 258 markets, covering more than two-thirds of the US population.