Verizon Communications this morning announced an agreement to acquire automotive technology company Hughes Telematics for $612 million in cash — a deal that underscores the emergence of the car as a connected device, as much as the smartphones in our pockets.

The move will be closely watched in the Seattle region, which has become a hotbed for companies involved in in-car information, entertainment and communications technologies, including Microsoft’s automotive unit, INRIX, Airbiquity, Bsquare and others.

In a news release, Verizon and Hughes say the deal will boost Verizon’s focus on machine-to-machine communications, an area where wireless companies expect significant growth. Verizon Communications includes the Verizon Wireless business, in addition to the Verizon wireline broadband service.

Hughes, based in Atlanta, reported a net loss of $85.3 million last year on revenues of $71.2 million. Verizon expects the deal to close in the third quarter.

More coverage: Forbes, New York Times, Associated Press.

Image via Hughes Telematics

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