Traffic message channel
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Traffic Message Channel (TMC) is a technology for delivering traffic and travel information to motor vehicle drivers. It is digitally coded, using the FM-RDS system on conventional FM radio broadcasts. It can also be transmitted on DAB or satellite radio. TMC allows silent delivery of dynamic information suitable for reproduction or display in the user's language without interrupting audio broadcast services. Both public and commercial services are operational in many countries. When data is integrated directly into a navigation system, traffic information can be used in the system's route calculation.
Each traffic incident is binary-encoded and sent as a TMC message. Each message consists of an event code, location code, expected incident duration, affected extent and other details.
The message is coded according to the Alert C standard. It contains a list of up to 2048 event phrases (1402 as of 2007) that can be translated by the receiver into the user's language. Some phrases describe individual situations such as a crash, while others cover combinations of events such as construction causing long delays.
In Europe, location code tables are maintained on a national level. Those location tables are integrated in the maps provided by in-vehicle navigation system companies such as Nokia and Tele Atlas and by vehicle manufacturers such as Volvo. In other countries, such as the U.S. and Canada, private companies maintain the location tables and market TMC services commercially.
Sources of traffic information typically include police, traffic control centers, camera systems, traffic speed detectors, floating car data, winter driving reports and roadwork reports.
TMC-Forum, a non-profit organization whose members included service providers, receiver manufacturers, car manufacturers, map vendors, broadcasters (public and private), automobile clubs, and public authorities, was a forum to discuss traffic information related matters. It maintained the TMC-Standard (ISO 14819). On 11 November 2007, the TMC-Forum and the TPEG-Forum merged into the Traveller Information Services Association (TISA). TISA has taken over all of TMC-Forum's activities and responsibilities.
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RDS-TMC is a low-bandwidth system, with each RDS-TMC message comprising 37 data bits sent at most 1–3 times per second, using a basic data channel primarily designed for FM radio tuning and station name identification. Compressing traffic incident descriptions in multiple languages into 16 bits for a location, 11 bits for an event code, plus 5 bits for an extent and a few more bits for the duration and system management was necessary due to constraints in the RDS standard (almost all broadcast data bits were already assigned).
One design challenge of RDS-TMC was to find a way of using 16 bits (about 65,000 combinations) to describe locations across an entire state or country. Such a system could not convey latitude-longitude data (available 25 years later using GPS). Instead, RDS-TMC relies on the use of location tables that point only to significant highway junctions. The precision of each traffic event's location is low compared to modern GPS devices. The user's navigation system locates a driver to about 3 metres, but only knows, for example, that a crash took place between Exit 3 and Exit 4, northbound on a particular motorway. This limitation is because traffic events (accidents, congestion, burst water mains, faulty traffic lights, etc.) have to be superimposed onto maps by matching the reported location with the location table. If the nearest location table point is distant from the point of the incident, then it appears on a section of main road between two junctions instead of at its exact location. The limited precision can make a significant difference as to how navigation devices interpret the incident, possibly leading to a poor route choice.
In the USA and elsewhere, systems such as Cable television relay service station (CARS) exist that can track and pinpoint event locations with one-meter precision. These real-time data are published in XML for access by companies such as Google and TomTom. These incident reports can be delivered to mobile phones and handheld devices in vehicles. They are not currently in use in most navigational systems for reasons that are unclear.
In April 2007, two Italian security researchers presented research about RDS-TMC at the CanSecWest security conference. The presentation, entitled "Unusual Car Navigation Tricks", raised the point that RDS-TMC is a wireless cleartext protocol and showed how to build a receiver and transmitter with inexpensive electronics capable of injecting false and potentially dangerous messages.
The TMC Forum responded by stating that the effects of any 'pirate' TMC broadcasts would be non-existent on users not on routes affected by fake obstruction messages and that such broadcasts would directly interfere with that country's TMC carrier station, which would lead to criminal or civil liability. They stated that it was therefore unlikely that such activity would take place.
An RDS-TMC receiver is a special FM radio tuner that can decode TMC data. Satellite TMC receivers use a dedicated data channel that is broadcast as part of much larger broadcast digital audio channels. TMC data is decoded by matching event and location codes against look-up tables of phrases and locations. The results can be translated into audio or visually displayed on a Sat nav device. The look-up tables must be implemented in a service-specific database mapped to geographic routes and intersections. As with the navigation systems themselves, periodic upgrades are needed as the road system changes. This provides opportunites for vendors to generate revenue.
The technical concepts of RDS-TMC originated about 30 years ago, initially by Blaupunkt and Philips. With European Commission funding, the BBC, Transport Research Laboratory and CCETT came together in a team led by Castle Rock Consultants to develop the standard. More recently, personal navigation devices (PND) have emerged as an alternative way to deliver traffic information via mobile devices employing GPS.
Automobile companies continue to roll out RDS-TMC products. One reason is that the use of mobile devices is attracting legislative attention due to concerns about driver distraction. Like car radios, in-vehicle navigation systems have not so far generated the same concerns and may continue to outsell handheld solutions.
Higher-end models of personal navigation assistants come with a built-in TMC receiver, and depending on the country, the service is available in Eclipse, Garmin, iPhone (Navigon), Navman, Navway, Mio, Pioneer, TomTom and Uniden navigation systems, as well as in Volvo, BMW and Ford Falcon navigation systems, among many others.
TMC adapters can extend mobile navigation systems with integrated GPS receivers with TMC functionality. They can include a bluetooth or USB connection. The adapter passes traffic messages to the navigation software for route calculations. The adapters generally include a connector for FM/TMC, an antenna (2,5mm phone jack or MCX jack 50 Ohm). Compatible navigation programs include AvMap, Destinator PN, Falk Navigator TMC Edition (special version for MyGuide Navigator 6500XL TMC Bundle), GoPal, iGO, Mireo, Navigon MN5, Route 66, and Sygic.
In some places, TMC coverage is smaller than that of the radio programme carrying the TMC service, therefore white spots exist. For example, in the USA, one of the two TMC commercial services is run by Clear Channel Communications, whose 95 FM station urban markets typically have some level of traffic information service. Another is Sirius Satellite Radio, which covers all of North America, including sparsely-populated rural areas and near-empty deserts. Although vendors are beginning to make arrangements with information systems such as CARS, operated by state police and state departments of transportation, coverage is likely to remain sketchy in some states during the next few years.
TMC services in operation 
The following countries provide a TMC service:
Intelematics Australia broadcasts a national encrypted RDS-TMC service focused initially on urban Australia under the brand 'SUNA Traffic Channel'. The service reaches around 85% of urban Australia, using commercial FM broadcasters in seven cities, as well as via XML for online and smartphone applications. The service is available on GPS navigation systems including Navman, Garmin, Mio, Uniden, iPhone (Navigon & Sygic), Eclipse, Pioneer, Alpine and Clarion. SUNA Traffic Channel is also available in Ford, Holden, Toyota, Nissan, Subaru and Mercedes Benz navigation systems. SUNA is currently the only source of comprehensive, metropolitan congestion monitoring content in Australia – proprietary technology interfaces to traffic light control systems. The SUNA broadcast service is fully compliant with both RDS and TMC. However, since the broadcast is encrypted it does not work on in-car GPS navigation systems that do not have a commercial arrangement with SUNA.
In Austria, ORF broadcasts a free service on radio channels Ö1, Ö2 (9 regional channels), Ö3, Radio Salzburg and FM4. It is supported by the Federal Ministry for Traffic, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT). ASFINAG is responsible for the location table, currently version 2.1, which received updates to handle increased use during Euro 2008. Its location table contains around 8,000 codes.
Baltic region 
Destia Traffic broadcasts traffic information in the Baltic region.
TMOBILIS is provided by Be-Mobile and Touring Mobilis. It is the only fully Belgian service. It combines all Belgian sources from the Flemish, Walloon and Brussels government, police stations, a national Floating Car Data system based on Proximus and GPS vehicles and the Touring Mobilis call center. It is nationally broadcast by both VRT on Studio Brussel for Flanders and RTBF on Classic21 in Wallonia and Brussels.
In Wallonia and Brussels, CLASS.21 is broadcast by RTBF on Classic 21. The service is from the Centre PEREX of the Service public de Wallonie (SPW, formerly MET) in collaboration with TMC4U. Coverage of transmissions and content are limited to Wallonia and Brussels.
4FMTMC is provided by Vialis, which also operates TMC services in the Netherlands. It is broadcast by 4FM in Flanders and contains content from both Vlaams Verkeerscentrum and PEREX. It covers all of Belgium.
Tritel creates the location tables by order of the regional communities. Since December 2004 broadcast messages use location table version 1.4b, which added N-roads. The latest version is 2.3 (from July 2008).
A national TMC service for Bulgaria started beta testing in December 2010. The service is provided by TrafficNav, a Budapest traffic information company in cooperation with the broadcast hardware manufacturer Kvarta. Data sources include real time traffic information provided by tix.bg, presently for Sofia. The service can be accessed by most Garmin navigation devices and will soon be supported in several factory car navigation devices.
Legislation does not allow the insertion of external digital data into analogue FM transmissions and the use of RDS-TMC technology is also banned.
Czech Republic 
Three services are available. DIC PRAGUE and TELEASIST began operation in January 2006 and JSDI began in 2008. All services are free to air.
DIC PRAHA is available in Prague. It is broadcast on Czech Radio’s Regina (92.6 MHz). The service provider is TSK-Praha (Communication Technical Administration). The content comes from the traffic centre in Prague (TIC Prague) and consists of closures, restrictions and levels of service.
TELEASIST, provided by Teleasist together with Global Assistance, is available countrywide. It is not as detailed as DIC Prague in certain areas. It is broadcast by Czech Radio’s Radiožurnál.
JSDI is provided by the Czech Road Motorway Directorate (ŘSD ČR) and is broadcast countrywide on Czech Radio’s Vltava. Content consists of closures, road restrictions and winter maintenance across the country, accident information from rescue services and detailed content from TIC Prague.
TMC developments are coordinated by CEDA, which is responsible for the location table. Its current version is 3.0, containing more than 16,000 records.
The free TMC service DK-TMC in Denmark is operated by Vejdirektoratet or DRD (Danish Road Directorate). It is broadcasted on DR P1, P3 and P4. DRD is also responsible for the location table. The current version is 11.1 and contains around 10,000 location codes.
The commercial service in Finland is provided by Destia. The service covers the largest cities and roads 1–999, covering areas cover the whole country. TMC messages are broadcast nationally on YLE Radio Suomi channel. Destia uses several information sources to validate traffic data, including induction loops, traffic cameras, radio stations, road users and several partnership companies. The service is encrypted, based on specifications set by the TMC Forum.
The location table is provided by FINNRA, the Finnish Road Administration. The newest location table is version number 1.42 and contains around 8,100 problem locations.
Both a free public service and a commercial service are available in France.
The free service is provided by the motorway operators and provides information on their toll-roads. The toll-road operators are AREA, ASF, ATMB, Cofiroute, ESCOTA, SANEF, SAPN, SAPRR, SFTRF and SMTPC. The TMC data is on the 107.7 traffic channel and can only be received along the motorways.
The commercial service V-Trafic is provided by Mediamobile. It is a partnership between TDF, Renault, Trafficmaster and Cofiroute. The service, which replaces the previous Visionaute service, is transmitted on the frequencies of France Inter and can be received nationally. It includes information from the motorways and on Paris congestion. The service was originally open, but it is now a pay-service. It is not encrypted, but restricts access using different location table numbers. This is TMC Forum's Interim encryption method. It handles about 60,000 customers.
Another commercial service is provided by ViaMichelin and Carte Blanche, transmitted by the Towercast network (NRJ group). In September 2005 PSA Peugeot Citroën signed a partnership with ViaMichelin.
Location tables are released by the government agency SETRA and include about 20,000 locations. Since version 0.4 it has included both Paris and environs. The latest certified version is 8.0 for France (the last release contained around 13,500 locations) and 0.0 for Andorra (containing 62 locations).
Germany offers both public and commercial services. The public service is an open, free service that can be received by public radio stations.
The other service, TMCpro, is a pay service provided by Navteq Services GmbH and owned by Navteq. It was developed and originally provided by T-Systems Traffic GmbH, a subsidiary of T-Systems which was bought by Navteq in January 2009. The service went live across Germany at the beginning of 2005. The content is provided by ddg Gesellschaft für Verkehrsdaten mbh, a wholly owned subsidiary of T-Systems Traffic GmbH. It is an encrypted service based on the conditional access specifications of the TMC Forum.
BASt, the German Federal Highway Research Institute, releases location tables. In version 5.1 all major access roads leading to football arenas that were used in the World Championship in 2006 were added. The current version is 10.1 and contains 44,233 location codes.
A TMC-service has been available in the Attica region since September 2010, to be rolled out for nationwide coverage in 2011. The service is provided by TrafficNav, a Budapest-based traffic information company, and is available on Galaxy Radio and Radio DeeJay. The service can be accessed by most Garmin and Mio navigation devices and is to be featured in several built-in car navigation devices.
A national TMC-service has been available since 2008. The service is provided by TrafficNav, the Budapest traffic information company and is available on the national FM networks of Petőfi Radio (Channel 2 of Magyar Rádió, Hungary's State Radio) and NEO FM (a national commercial station). The service can be accessed by most navigation devices manufactured by TomTom, Garmin, Navigon, Mio and Navon, and is featured in several built-in car navigation devices, including selected models of Volvo, Toyota and Lexus. The service is based on V2.0 of the Hungary location table.
In October 2009, GEWI Europe GmbH & Co. KG released the TISA certified Location Table version 1.0 for Indonesia.
In September 2011, iQios Sejahtera launched the first real-time traffic service in Indonesia.
TMC service is currently unavailable, although the infrastructure is in place; originally for use by the Iranian National Broadcasting Company (IRIB). The service is expected to become publicly available in 2020.
TMC for Dublin went live in November 2010. The service was extended to provide national coverage later that year. The service is provided by TrafficNav, the Budapest traffic information company and is available on RTÉ Radio 1, a national FM network of Ireland's State Radio. Data sources include real time traffic information provided by Dublin City Council. The service can be accessed by most Garmin navigation devices and will soon be featured in several built-in car navigation devices.
A commercial RDS-TMC service was initiated by Decell Technologies in February 2011. Decell provides national coverage broadcast by several regional radio stations. The content distribution relies on Decell's TISA certified TMC location table 36. Decell provides real-time flow and incident traffic data on RDS-TMC to all leading navigation companies.
The Italian location table, provided by RAI-CCISS, is in version 2.1 with around 12.500 codes.
As of September 2010, the location table was at version 3.1 with around 41,000 codes. It has all highways, state roads, county roads and urban roads for main towns.
TMC4U provides a free TMC service in the Netherlands. The firm plans a commercial service including local information. TMC4U is a collaboration between Siemens and ANWB. The transmissions are broadcast on radio channels of SkyRadio, Radio Veronica, Radio 1 and 3FM.
The ViaTMC service is provided by Vialis. They transmit on the FM channels of Q-music (previously Radio Noordzee), BNR Nieuwsradio and Radio 538. Information on traffic jams and road works is the same on both channels, but independently provide information on speed traps.
Radio 2 sends out TMC-messages, working with data from Vialis.
Location tables come from AVV Transport Research Centre and are supplied by TIC Nederland. The current version is 6.1, which aded parking information to the 2003.a version.
New Zealand 
The New Zealand Automobile Association broadcasts traffic alerts via FM broadcast radio in and around Greater Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
As of 2009, NRK was testing an open TMC service. The open service is transmitted using the P1-frequency, and information on coverage and nearest transmitter can be found on. NRK broadcasts information on roadworks, planned closures and winter-closed mountain passes. Updates on accidents and other unforeseen information are currently done Mon-Fri 05.30–22.00, Sat 09.30–17.00 and Sun 13.00–22.00.
Commercial radio station P4 is working with Destia Traffic to provide TMC service in Norway. This service is encrypted but free for all private users and GPS manufacturers TomTom, Garmin, mio and Navigon provide a free service.
In 2003 an experiment distributed TMC-messages in Østfold, Akershus and Oslo.
In 1 May 2010, commercial TMC service became available in Poland, on private radio station RMF FM. The service is provided by MediaMobile Nordic and it is available for Garmin and Navigon users as well as Nissan.
In November 2012, CE-Traffic launched commercial TMC service in Poland - Premium RDS-TMC. CE-Traffic partnered with EuroZET media group which is a part of Lagardère Group, in order to provide connectivity country-wide. The service is based on CE-Traffic data generated from Floating Car Data systems fused with journalistic information. It is available for major interconnecting roads, urban streets in 15 major cities, and other roads commonly used by drivers as shortcuts or alternative routes. The location table includes future changes in the backbone network until the end of 2013.
Since March 2011 TMC has been carried on RFM radio, provided by Be-mobile. Be-Mobile released TMC table version 1.1. Navteq Maps editions since Q3/2011 now provide TMC coverage for Portugal. There are now three TMC channels in Portugal.
Starting 30 May 2012, TMC service is available in Romania, on private radio station (ProFM). The service is provided by TrafficNav.
TraficOK was the first TMC system tested and implemented in Romania. The system uses a location table of over 11,500 entries, which provides nearly full coverage of the Romanian road infrastructure. The table was developed by AROBS and certified by TISA - Traveller Information Services Association. Data on traffic flow, events, weather warnings, road repairs and traffic jams is collected from several sources. The TraficOK project was developed by AROBS Transilvania Software  and Be-Mobile. Messages are sent via Europa FM radio stations (in FM bandwidth) to various hardware equipment (navigation systems, mobile phones, etc.) equipped with TMC modules.
TraficOK was planned to be available in Bucuresti, Ploiesti, Pitesti, Constanta, Brasov, Cluj Napoca, Târgu Mures, Oradea, Arad, Timisoara, Iasi and Bacau.
In June 2006, GEWI Europe GmbH & Co. KG released the first TISA certified TMC Location Table for Singapore. Its Singapore company, GEWI Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd. offered the service. The latest location table version 1.2 includes more than 150 car park locations within the Central Business District and downtown areas. GEWI's traffic services are available on several models of Smartphones, PAPAGO! and Garmin GPS navigation devices.
In Nov 2010, the Land Transport Authority announced the release of the Location Table for Singapore. Quantum Inventions offers a traffic data service based on this location table and includes traffic incidents information, traffic speeds, parking availability, weather, road closures, etc. Various brands of GPS systems using the Galactio software provide these dynamic data in the navigation system.
A national TMC-service became available in June 2009. The service is provided by TrafficNav, the Budapest traffic information company and is available on two national FM networks of Radiotelevizija Slovenija, Slovenia's State Radio. The service can be accessed by most Garmin, Navigon and Navo nnavigation devices and will soon be featured in several factory fitted car navigation devices. The service is based on V3.0 of the Slovenia location table.
South Africa 
TMC services in South Africa have been available since late 2009, a service provided by Altech Netstar. In partnership with INRIX, Altech Netstar broadcasts their Premium Traffic Service throughout Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Western Cape Peninsula. The company planned to launch in Orange Free State, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga in 2012. Altech Netstar offers a commercial service to its OEM and Commercial Customers. Altech Netstar broadcasts XML services to their device partners and wholesale customers.
A TMC service is available in Spain on RNE 3. It is provided by SCT as the operator of traffic management in Catalonia Autonomous Community, DT in the Basque Country Autonomous Community and DGT (Traffic General Directorate) for the rest of the country.
Road network coverage is the motorways, national roads and first level roads that belong to the Autonomous Communities. RACC is working on urban services, starting with Seville and Barcelona to broadcast on RNE 2.
Location tables are provided by DGT, Dirección General de Tráfico. The current version is 2.1 and contains about 7.750 entries.
A free service is available in Sweden. Swedish Transport Administration, or Trafikverket, is responsible for the free service and for location tables. Version 2 contains about 22,587 entries including 923 Area, 4191 road/segment/street and 17,473 points.
Sweden is divided into 8 broadcasting zones to avoid transmitting traffic information that is not useful at that location. They cover the European, national and major county highways. The service is broadcast on Sveriges Radio P3 radio station and covers 98 percent of Sweden.
Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) has an information page for Trafikverket RDS-TMC in Swedish.
A TMC service is available in Switzerland. The broadcaster is SRG SSR idée suisse or Swiss Broadcasting Corporation who transmits TMC on FM chain 1 and FM chain 3 all over Switzerland.
- In German speaking areas: DRS 1 (G) / DRS 3 (G) / La 1ère (F) / Rete Uno (I) partly
- In French speaking areas: La 1ère (F) / Couleur 3 (F) / DRS 1 (G) / Rete Uno (I) partly
- In Italian speaking areas: Rete Uno (I) / Rete Tre (I) / DRS 1 (G) / La 1ère (F)
Daughter company Viasuisse operates the service.
Location codes are the responsibility of the Swiss Federal Roads Authority FEDRO but B+S Ingenieur (Bundesamt fuer Strassen) distributes the location tables. Version 5.5 contains around 10,000 codes.
The Taiwanese police radio station and Ministry of Transportation and Communication (MOTC) both broadcast RDS-TMC traffic data. It is currently available for TomTom, Garmin, Panasonic, PaPaGo and Mio devices.
United Kingdom 
The private company iTIS Holdings provides a commercial TMC service iTMC in the United Kingdom. It is broadcast nationally on Classic FM and other commercial radio stations. ITIS provides traffic data on RDS-TMC to major automotive companies (BMW, Mercedes, Toyota, Ford, Renault, Jaguar, Land Rover and others). The price of the service is included in the price of the car or navigation system.
This system uses Floating Vehicle Data, which include positional information from over 160,000 fleet vehicles fitted, The data is complemented by journalistic or "Incident" data provided by Trafficlink. Trafficlink is owned by ITIS and provides traffic and travel bulletins to BBC Radio and to over 95% of the UK commercial radio stations. Incident data includes road works, accidents and closures.
RAC Live operated by RAC Trafficmaster Telematics (RTT) a 50–50 joint venture between RAC Motoring Services and Trafficmaster also operates a national service using local and regional radio broadcaster Global Radio to ensure reception across mainland Britain. This system uses road-side infrastructure to measures vehicle travel time between sensors placed a few miles apart, and uses number plate recognition technology.
Both services maintain their own location tables. The current location table version of ITIS is 5.1. The current location table version of Trafficmaster is 3.1.
Within the United Kingdom TMC services are offered as pay services. As such they are currently carried by commercial radio stations rather than by the BBC, a public service broadcaster. The BBC charter prohibits it from carrying a commercial service.
United States and Canada 
In the United States of America, XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio provide TMC service all over the US. Navteq provides traffic data to both providers. Navteq Traffic delivers traffic information and related advertising via RDS and HD signals to navigation devices nationwide. Navteq also provided traffic data sourced from sensors, probes and other technologies in 10+ countries as of December 2009. INRIX, Inc. fuses TMC data with real-time flow information from its crowd-sourced network of floating cars and mobile devices with information from other public and private sources to deliver real-time and predictive traffic information.
Clear Channel Communications and Tele Atlas have a TMC service called Total Traffic Network (TTN), using FM RDS in 77 US cities and three Canadian metropolitan areas. These services are both offered by subscription and were initially available to many in-car navigation units via an expansion module purchased separately.
The TomTom RDS-TMC Traffic Receiver acquires information through an FM signal broadcast by Clear Channel's regional providers. By connecting a compatible TomTom navigation device to the RDS-TMC Traffic Receiver, users receive traffic information via the TMC connection. Traffic alerts appear in the traffic bar on the right side of the screen. Tapping the traffic bar reveals further information, such as accident or traffic delays. The RDS-TMC Traffic Receiver is compatible with the TomTom VIA series, GO 920, TomTom GO 720, TomTom ONE XL and TomTom ONE 3rd edition. It integrates RDS-TMC Traffic information with TomTom GO and ONE products.
Other areas 
A map of current and planned TMC service is available from the Traffic Message Channel.
In Luxembourg no service is currently planned.
In Dubai location table 1.2 has been certified.
In Turkey, a location table is planned.
In China, investigations are ongoing to choose a technology for its traffic information system. The main candidates are the Japanese system VICS and the European TMC. A TMC Location table version 1.0 has already been certified .
See also 
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