General Motors announced on Feb. 25 a broad global strategy to deliver a new generation of connected cars and trucks with embedded 4G LTE mobile broadband through AT&T which will be the largest deployment in the automotive industry to date, according to GM.
The first GM cars, trucks and crossovers to get the new 4G LTE will be most of the 2015 model year Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models available in 2014 in the United States and Canada.
According to GM, the service will provide mobile data speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G technologies, increased responsiveness, and the ability to support simultaneous voice and data connections.
The new built-in 4G LTE connection will enable advances in a wide range of in-vehicle communications and entertainment capabilities.
The expected benefits for GM customers will be provided through the in-vehicle Wi-Fi hot spots to enable new infotainment options like streaming video entertainment in the back seat, real-time updates and faster application downloads.
All of the these enhancements build on OnStar’s existing portfolio of built-in connected services, first introduced in GM vehicles in 1996.
The built-in 4G LTE structure is integrated into the vehicle’s electrical system and includes an external antenna to maximize coverage and connectivity. Customers will not be required to have a smartphone to use connected services.
“In addition to allowing consumers to bring in and connect to personal mobile devices, the vehicle will also act as its own mobile device, enabling embedded vehicle capabilities,” said Mary Chan, president, Global Connected Consumer, General Motors.
“Turning this vision into a reality starts with enabling fast, reliable and responsive connectivity within the vehicle. Through this built-in 4G LTE connection we have the opportunity to reinvent the mobile experience inside a vehicle.”
Over time, applications of widespread in-vehicle 4G LTE connectivity will enable vehicles to interact directly with their environment to enhance safety, efficiency and convenience for drivers and passengers. 4G LTE will make services such as real-time traffic and navigation updates possible, pulling information from the cloud.
Another one of the benefits of the Wi-Fi hot spot feature will be the ability to connect multiple personal (or business) devices such as laptops and tablet computers to the internet at the same time through this technology.
For the ever growing U.S. full-size pickup market segment, this technology offers a business advantage for owners of pickup trucks so equipped.
Earlier this year, Ram Truck brand announced that they were making available Wi-Fi mobile hot spot technology (provided by Sprint) through their Uconnect system in the 2013 Ram 1500.
One of the key features of the Ram Truck brand Wi-Fi mobile hot spot is that their hot spot antennae will broadcast the signal to a radius of 150 feet from vehicle allowing use of the mobile devices both inside and outside of the truck.
With this feature, Ram Truck brand differentiated their pickup truck offering from the competition improving their position in the market segment.
Now GM can offer this technology also to significantly enhance the business productivity of owners of the new generation (introducing as 2014 models) GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado full-size pickup trucks as they come into the market. This announcement did not mention the feature of a broadcast radius from a GM vehicle so equipped, but it can be assumed that this capability is included.
With or without, this new Wi-Fi mobile hot spot technology now adds an additional competitive feature for GM to offer as they work to retain their position in that market segment.
GM and AT&T will immediately begin work to develop 4G LTE connectivity for GM vehicles in the U.S. and Canada. AT&T’s 4G LTE network is expected to reach 300 million people in the U.S. by the end of 2014.
GM will announce more details along with added carrier and supplier relationships in coming months to expand 4G LTE capabilities in markets around the globe.