More automakers offering LTE-based Wi-Fi hotspots in vehicles

AT&T teams with Audi to offer in-vehicle LTE connectivity in 2015 A3 sedans

Automakers are increasingly offering LTE-based Wi-Fi hotspots in their automobiles for infotainment systems, observes ABI Research.

The auto makers are deploying Wi-Fi connectivity using the latest 802.11ac protocol, which provides higher data throughput and reduced latency compared with previous protocols.

"Coupled with LTE connectivity, this will allow a host of new high-bandwidth services to be delivered to rear-seat passengers as well as provide a higher level of interactivity, enabling passengers, for example, to play games online or connect to social media networks," ABI explains.

However, applications such as rear-seat video streaming would consume large amount of data, making the services based on those applications expensive.

"Although some early adopters and premium customers might be willing to pay an extra $15 to $30 per month for the convenience of built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, most drivers will not be willing to pay for an automotive wireless plan on top of home broadband and mobile phone subscriptions," comments Gareth Owen, principal analyst with ABI.

"If the in-car Wi-Fi market is to develop, car OEMs will have to work with mobile operators to develop new initiatives such as the introduction of shared data plans which would enable consumers to add cars to existing tariff plans," adds Owen.

In North America, ABI expects Wi-Fi penetration in embedded car infotainment systems to reach almost 60 percent by 2019.

At the Consumer Electronics Show being held this week, AT&T said it is teaming with Audi to offer in-vehicle LTE connectivity in Audi's model year 2015 A3 sedans. Audi also plans to offer a mobile share plan, enabling AT&T customers to buy a data package for their car, Wireless Week reports.

For more:
- see ABI's release
- read Wireless Week's report

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