General Motors will be taking the connected-car game to the next level starting in 2014. At the 2013 World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Monday, GM vice-chairman Steve Girsky announced the move, pointing out that, after all, the automobile is "the original mobile device." Good point! The automaker is partnering with AT&T to bring super-fast 4G LTE connectivity to its cars and trucks for the 2015 model year. What this means to you is a whole new world of surfing the Internet, watching streaming video, and many other online applications for your passengers, all while you drive down the road.
In-car connectivity isn’t completely novel—several manufacturers already offer connectivity packages. What is new, though, is turning the cars themselves into mobile hotspots by putting the 4G LTE network into them. GM says the new network will be ten times speedier than 3G, the network that current in-car systems use.
Also new: GM’s partnership with AT&T. GM currently works with AT&T rival Verizon Wireless to provide service for OnStar. Beyond the 4G adoption, GM and AT&T plan to work together to develop new communications applications for vehicles, using the connectivity as their starting point and inspiration.
Not First, But Most Extensive Adopter
Audi announced at January’s Consumer Electronics Show that it would bring 4G LTE to the 2013 A3, so GM is not technically the first to bring 4G to the road, but it will give the technology its widest application yet.
Want to know what GM models get it? GM says it will start in the U.S. with 2015 Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, and GMC models, including some that come out as soon as next year, and then roll out to its Europe-market brands.
Girsky noted that the "customers will be able to continuously update it with upgraded systems, software, and apps, without having to buy a whole new vehicle."
GM didn’t release specifics about features that would be available in connected cars, but says options could include in-car hotspots, streaming video for back-seat passengers, and real-time traffic and navigation updates, all accessed without the use of a smartphone. GM is looking to make partnerships with other service providers to expand the technology to other markets as well and says it will release detailed information about availability and service options closer to the technology’s launch next year.
This looks like the start of something that we'll be seeing everywhere before long. In Girsky's words, there will soon come "a day when your car becomes just another device in your wireless plan."