GM, AT&T Plan WiFi-Enabled Vehicles Using LTE Network

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2013-02-25 Print this article Print

A more likely use may probably be as a way to pacify back-seat passengers with movies or other video entertainment, much like current cars have DVD players and screens to mollify the kids in back who otherwise would be asking if they’re there yet.

Just imagine how much data you could consume when running around town while the kids consume Dora the Explorer or Sesame Street. You could find that your new Chevy Tahoe costs more in data than it does in $4.50 per gallon gas. But it could be worse. Imagine your teenage son in the back finding “alternative content” that succeeds in getting you pulled over when the cops see what he’s watching. Add the fines to the data charges and driving around town could get expensive.

Hopefully, the folks at GM will also use the LTE connection for one of the things it’s really good at, which is machine-to-machine communications. Equipping the car with the ability to provide real-time telemetry could go a long way towards catching problems before they become breakdowns. Likewise, an LTE connection could improve on something that’s already available, which is to communicate service needs to the manufacturer.

The way this currently works, at least on my car, is that the car’s computer uses its Bluetooth connection to my phone to contact the company’s servers in the case that the computer discovers something’s amiss. This recently happened when my car, an Acura RDX discovered a tire pressure fault in the Tire Pressure Management System. The car sent a report to Acura, and in addition downloaded a verbal explanation of what was happening so that I wouldn’t have to stop and read it on a screen.

GM’s LTE-based management system as the company envisions it would do much the same thing. And you’d probably get same message I did when it happened—to stop the car, get out and make sure the tires still had air in them before continuing.

Hopefully such a system could be somewhat more useful since it would have more bandwidth available. Perhaps it would display a video on the car’s LCD screen showing  you what a flat tire looks like, and how to kick the tires to see if they felt filled. If you’re lucky, the system might provide software updates to the navigation system instead of a warning that your tire might be flat. But both are useful and if planned well can provide features you can’t do now with your phone.

Clearly when this feature is launched, we’ll request a review model of a 2015 Corvette for a report in eWEEK. It’s important to run a thorough hands-on test, after all.


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