Truckstop operators were told Friday that fleets may soon be able to communicate with their drivers not only by voice but by video, and send data and images dealing with all the things that affect a driver's daily activity.
The message was delivered by Gene Bergoffen, technology consultant for the truckstop/travel plaza organization NATSO, at NATSO's annual meeting in Nashville.
"This year you will see a dramatic expansion in the number of drivers 'wired' to home base...as the cost of seamless wireless communications drops significantly."
Bergoffen said Internet transmission is already one of the least expensive ways of moving data and messages across the country. Laptop use by drivers is growing dramatically, and computer devices in truck cabs are quickly becoming commonplace.
Messaging has rapidly begun to shift from truckstop pay phones to personal cellular phones and fleet-controlled communications networks. "Why use a fixed phone when you can call long distance on a cell phone for 10 cents a minute?" Bergoffen asked. "And now there are inexpensive ways to connect laptops through cell phone modems for sending and receiving e-mail."
Bergoffen urged truckstop operators to prepare for the shift in communications methods by making their businesses Internet 'user friendly.'
"When customers arrive at your location, they'll look for inexpensive ways to get on the Web. You need to be ready to fill that need."