AT&T customers who have unlimited mobile data plans can now add unlimited data capabilities to their vehicle for the first time for $40 per month. The in-vehicle mobile data fee will be charged in addition to a user's standard monthly $100 unlimited mobile plan. Unlimited data plan users can also opt instead for a charge of $10 per month for 1GB of mobile data if they don't want an unlimited in-car plan.
The new rates were unveiled by the carrier in an announcement on May 19 for vehicles that feature built-in 4G LTE capabilities or use the stand-alone ZTE Mobley mobile hotspot, which allows users to connect and share data with up to five WiFi-enabled devices while in a vehicle. The ZTE Mobley can be used in most vehicles 1996 and newer by plugging it into a vehicle's OBD-II port.
In the past, AT&T unlimited data plan customers could not add unlimited data capabilities to their vehicles, but due to increased demands for the service, the carrier has now made it possible, according to the company. Mobile Share Value Plan customers were previously eligible to add their vehicle to their shared data buckets, but unlimited shared plan accounts did not exist until recently.
AT&T has more than 8 million connected passenger vehicles using its 4G LTE services as of the first quarter of 2016, according to the company.
"It's incredible to think back to 10 years ago when we first started talking with automakers about connecting their cars," Chris Penrose, senior vice president of Internet of things products at AT&T, said in a statement. "Fast forward to today. More and more cars are rolling off the line with embedded connectivity solutions. The interest we are seeing from carmakers and consumers around the world says this revolution is here to stay."
AT&T says it now has or is working on connected car capabilities with 19 of the world's top vehicle brands, including GM, BMW, Ford, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Audi, Porsche, Infiniti and VW. The company has also signed a recent deal to bring the capabilities to Jaguar Land Rover vehicles as well.
In a new advertising campaign targeted at families this summer, AT&T is promoting its in-vehicle connected services as family-friendly offerings that will be valuable on long vacation trips to keep everyone occupied.
AT&T first began allowing customers to add their vehicles to their Mobile Share Value plans back in the summer of 2014 for $10 a month, the same price as a tablet, according to an earlier eWEEK story. The 2015 Chevrolet Malibu was the first LTE-equipped vehicle, followed by more than 30 other Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles by the end of 2014. The LTE-enabled GM vehicles act like a WiFi hotspot, offering connectivity to up to seven devices, as well as access to OnStar—which has evolved well beyond the emergency service that was most drivers' first experience with in-car connectivity.