How long is the cable?

Tired of that ringing cell phone in your car? Just wait – it’s about to get worse. Inventive minds in Japan have developed the technology to bring you television in your car. “That’s nothing new” you might scoff, referring to the fact that limos with those V-shaped TV antennae have been around for years. But as anyone who has ever tried to actually watch TV in a moving car can tell you, the reception is a little, uh, snowy.

But that’s all about to change, as Hitachi, Japan’s largest electronics maker, will start a digital satellite service that enables moving automobiles to receive television signals. The difference being that this will be television you can actually watch, if you’re so inclined..

Hitachi is in talks with automakers, electronics companies, and telecommunications firms to start the service in 2002, using three satellites. Potential partners in the service include Toyota, Honda, and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone. By 2010, Hitachi expects to have 46 million subscribers to the service, which will provide up to 50 channels. The service, which has been rumoured to carry a price tag of about $1 billion Canadian, can also be used to receive traffic informati.

That last bit about traffic information is especially good news for those of us who can’t really see the need for television in the car. I’d much rather have a small fridge in the glovebox and a microwave in the console for those long journeys, where TV is the last thing you want to think about.