US telecoms giant Verizon has announced the planned acquisition of Hughes Telematics, a firm that specializes in bringing connected services to vehicles.

The deal clocks in at $12 per share in cash, a total of $612m.

Hughes’ products include white label and fleet-focused offerings that concentrate on “interconnectivity between multiple content providers, call centers and hardware platforms.” In short, making vehicles more connected by offering a range of in-car services. The firm specialises in the telematics and M2M (machine to machine) fields, and this represents a strategic investment from Verizon to increase its footprint in these areas.

“We expect M2M and telematics to drive significant growth for Verizon and we’re taking an important step forward to accelerate solutions that will unlock more opportunities for existing and new HTI and Verizon customers,” John Stratton, president of Verizon Enterprise Solutions, is quoted as saying in today’s announcement.

While this is clearly a strong market for businesses (think sales teams, for example) and it’s planned that Hughes Telematics will operate as a subsidiary within Verizon’s Enterprise Solutions division, there’s a growing consumer market for Internet-connected vehicles too, so it makes sense for Verizon to have a strong presence in the field for the future.

From the announcement:

“The transaction will expand Verizon’s capabilities in the automotive and fleet telematics marketplace and accelerate growth in key vertical segments, including emerging machine-to-machine (M2M) services applications driven by consumer trends and increasingly connected lifestyles. HTI is a leader in implementing the next generation of connected services for vehicles, centered on a core platform of safety, security, convenience and infotainment offerings. HTI offers a portfolio of services through its commercial fleet, aftermarket and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) offerings as well products and services for mHealth providers and users.”

Hughes Telematics was founded in 2006, before merging with Polaris Acquisition Corporation in 2009 and going public. The deal with Verizon is expected to close in the third quarter of 2012.