According to a new report by Allied Business Intelligence Inc., commercial telematics solutions still lie outside the cost threshold of most small fleet operators, despite dropping hardware costs. Future government subsidies may help finance new telematics systems in some fleets specifically identified to be at higher risk, including transporters of hazardous materials, fuel, and explosives. According to ABI, the issue of Homeland Security has compelled commercial telematics vendors to develop new, advanced systems and technologies for fleet security applications, including remote vehicle shutdown, and biometrics. While these applications are compelling, few fleet operators will initially be able to take advantage of them, says ABI. "Reaching the virtually untapped smaller fleet markets will be pivotal in driving the global commercial telematics market from $2 billion last year, to over $6 billion in 2008," notes Frank Viquez, ABI analyst and report author. "Vendors are diligently moving down market to address smaller fleets, however some key issues will present themselves in the near future. The most significant will be a short-term rise in hardware costs for new multimodal telematics hardware that can support not only analog cellular and satellite, but digital communications as well." ABI says replacement hardware will become mandatory in fleets looking for seamless nationwide communications, due to the fact that wireless carriers won't be required to support analog cellular networks past 2008. Because only the wireless carriers are certain how long and where cellular will continue to be supported, some larger fleets will slowly migrate to digital during the course of the year, while many others will wait until next year. With some exceptions, hardware manufacturers will try delaying the introduction of new, multimodal equipment until year's end, when current development efforts should deliver lower hardware costs. The new study, "Fleet Management Systems: Exploring Global Market Opportunities, Trends, and Technologies in Commercial Telematics," thoroughly examines emerging, market-driving applications and technologies. It also projects commercial telematics equipment shipments and revenues segmented on a geographic basis, and provides analyses of key market participants. Allied Business Intelligence Inc. is an Oyster Bay, N.Y.-based technology research think tank founded in 1990. ABI publishes research and technology intelligence on the wireless, automotive, electronics, networking and energy industries. Details can be found on the web at or by calling 516-624-3113.