Suna 3 Promises Swifter Traffic Management

Suna's 3rd generation traffic management product claims to address issues of data quality, reliability and transmission of its traffic management service. Intelematics -- the wing of the RACV that delivers the SUNA traffic service -- today launched its 3rd generation of its SUNA traffic service, offering live traffic updates via RDS-TMC. The 3rd generation product essentially leverages the mass of road data that Intelematics has gathered about the road conditions across ten Australian cities. As an example, Intelematics representatives stated that the service will analyse more than three hundred million speed measurements per month.

SUNA 3's got a larger footprint across ten cities in Australia -- sorry Hobart and Darwin, nothing for you yet -- and the 3rd generation services will be rolled out in the next few weeks. One of the more interesting aspects of the service from an end-user point of view is that it's entirely compatible with existing SUNA devices, as it's still using FM transmission; Intelematics representatives stated that they're looking into more data-intensive TPEG transmission in the future which would require new hardware. For now, though, if you've got an older-but-still-SUNA capable device, you should start seeing more accurate data, as long as your maps are up to date.

I queried Intelematics as to what would happen with an older GPS that had out of date maps. SUNA 3 would still work, I was told; each road segment in a map is assigned a code, and if a device doesn't have the code for that segment of map, it'll just disregard the data, which means it'll operate and track traffic on the roads that it does know about, although you might not get the most optimal routing instructions.

There's an obvious comparison point here with TomTom's GoLive service, but Intelematic's claim here is that because it uses FM radio (technically RDS-TMC) rather than cellular 3G, it should be a more reliable signal; it claims a full update of traffic conditions is possible within two minutes of a cold start 96% of the time. The other key differentiator it's offering is that it's not a subscription service; if you've got a SUNA RDS-TMC device it's covered for the life of the product.