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LTE Built-In GM Cars: No Smartphones Required
2/25/2014

Source: GM
Source: GM

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tpfj
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GM selects my carrier
tpfj   2/25/2014 2:45:36 PM
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So GM selects my future carrier. No thanks, I'll pass on GM products. There is no reason to lock to a carrier except to gouge.

junko.yoshida
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Re: GM selects my carrier
junko.yoshida   2/25/2014 5:30:51 PM
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I agree. There are a lot of details that need to be worked out, I think. First, who pays the LTE subscription fee? Does it come with OnStar service?  And how much flexibility will carriers offer consumers? Will they allow consumers to bundle this with their existing data plan? And obviously, if drivers are not subscribed to AT&T, then, what happens?

Bert22306
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Re: GM selects my carrier
Bert22306   2/25/2014 7:14:41 PM
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This is nothing new, in fact. I have OnStar in my GM car now. It uses the Verizon 3G network. Although initially we had a combined Verizon plan that included OnStar and our cellphones, later they split out the OnStar into a separate monthly bill. So, no problem if you don't have a Verizon plan!

(Parenthetically, the original Kindle is the same. It uses AT&T wireless. Doesn't have to be bundled with any other plan.)

The original OnStar used the analog AMPS standard. And yes, from the start, these ALWAYS had external antennas, for better reception. So I see this as a natural progression. AMPS to 3G (since analog cellular was shut off entirely by 2008), and one would expect OnStar to migrate to 4G and then 5G, each time selecting whatever cellular carrier that best met their needs.

Future proof with 4G? Kind of makes me laugh.

The idea of offering an in-car WiFi hotspot is sort of cool. Could be done with 3G too, I suppose.

Oh, as an aside, GM and Mercedes, both of which have similar telematics systems, DID NOT offer to update older cars to the new cellular standard, or at least, not many of the older models. When OnStar went digital, ca. 2007, GM only offered updates to 2003 and newer cars. The rest could instead feel free to visit GM showrooms and select a new car.

junko.yoshida
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Re: GM selects my carrier
junko.yoshida   2/25/2014 9:28:00 PM
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@Bert, as usual, thanks for adding good insight here. I've never owned GM cars, and I did not know that. Thanks for your comments.

What you wrote in the last paragraph caught me eyes.

Oh, as an aside, GM and Mercedes, both of which have similar telematics systems, DID NOT offer to update older cars to the new cellular standard, or at least, not many of the older models. When OnStar went digital, ca. 2007, GM only offered updates to 2003 and newer cars. The rest could instead feel free to visit GM showrooms and select a new car.


Does this mean that something like a car to be "upgradable" and "future proof" as far as connectivity is concerned, they'd have to use software-defined radio? Or, it it just a plain fairy tale for those carmakers to think that they are "future-proofing" their cars, I wonder.

Bert22306
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Re: GM selects my carrier
Bert22306   2/25/2014 9:35:02 PM
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Junko, software defined radios are not even required. The ONLY thing required by the automakers is a will to do the job.

Even the first 1995 versions of OnStar were modular. It would have been nothing earthshaking to offer clients an upgrade. The first systems had separate modules for the cellular interface and the in-car systems interface. It seems simple enough to keep all of the existing services unchanged, and only swap out the cellular interface module.

Over the years, OnStar became more and more capable. But the owners of the older cars didn't care about any new bells and whistles. They just wanted their system to keep working.

I'm curious to see what GM will do this time around.

junko.yoshida
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Re: GM selects my carrier
junko.yoshida   2/25/2014 9:43:06 PM
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@Bert, that's a damn good question. I am going to ask GM. (This looks like nothing but a planned obsolescence to me.)

 



tpfj
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Re: GM selects my carrier
tpfj   2/26/2014 10:07:44 AM
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Speaking from a position of some ignorance here, as I too have never owned a car with OnStar, but we are I think talking about a serious data load now. My suspicion is OnStar did not consume much, but a car infotainment system, GPS mapping, cellular call and messaging system for multiple individuals in a car is going to be (as they are touting it "a phone with a car wrapped around it") a full family mobile subscription, not a small add-on fee. I'm not sure this is the same model as Onstar was, but please feel free to correct me. I definetely think OnStar has the lead here, and should logically corner this market should they expand into other vehicle models and address all mobile carriers, but they need to effectively become a carrier in their own right, which means customers pay twice, once for the mobile subscription and once for their car unless this duplicity can be resolved ammicably. Which it won't if my car is tied to AT&T and I chose Verizon for my mobile.

AZskibum
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Re: GM selects my carrier
AZskibum   2/26/2014 10:53:15 AM
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Even if GM doesn't select the carrier, how many users will be excited to pay for cellular data -- potential lots of data, if infotainment is involved? On another note, the subject of the external antenna gave me a chuckle, thinking about the old days when the first analog cellular phones were "car phones."

JeffL_2
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CEO
A bad idea all around
JeffL_2   2/26/2014 12:10:27 PM
Let's see, if I had bought a Ford with Sync in it a few years ago, now I would be having problems with in-car connectivity. So Ford gets upset with Microsoft's crappy customer service and drops them in favor of Blackberry. "Yes mister Ford customer, you have an older vehicle with the Microsoft operating system? Gee I'm afraid you're out of luck, you got 'stuck' with the 'Windows XP' of mobile code, on April 8 Redmond will be dropping all support for that lousy product, you'd better stop driving that vehicle because every script kiddy in eastern Europe is trying to hack into it, and some of them are the same people who were behind the Target data breach." Thanks a lot for all the help mister Ford service writer, by the way I'd like to have a word or two with someone from your "genius bar" for a couple of moments - wait, all you have are service techs?...

Fast forward to today, there's been some "backroom deal" cut between GM and one of the mobile carriers (you could be forgiven for noticing the similarity between this and the "sweetheart deal" some of the insurance carriers got with Obamacare, let's see GM was bailed out by the gov't by giving them what was once OUR tax money wasn't it?). Now like it or not if I want to purchase a certain model of vehicle I'm required to purchase a high speed "data plan" and I know that some amount of that bandwidth will be utilized by GM for purposes unknown, maybe they're monitoring how "leadfooted" I am and passing that information to my insurance carrier, maybe they're giving it to Google to distract my GPS-guided map-watching with customized ads, maybe it's only going to the NSA (ASSUREDLY it's going there). But you see we HAVE to get this plan because it's REQUIRED in order that GM will honor our new car warranty, because they're using it to provide the firmware in the vehicle with "critical service updates". Oh and if I want to trade in the car before my "data contract" is up I have to pay a termination fee, huh? Now just WAIT a minute, I paid FULL price for a BRAND NEW vehicle and they were just FINE with me driving it off the lot with the revision 0.8 firmware, but now I'M PAYING for a mechanism so they can REPLACE it while I'm on the road with a version they think might ACTUALLY work - this time?? And they're going to send me these "critical updates" over a cellular data network with absolutely NO guarantee of end-to-end data integrity? And the "certified reliability" that this code will REALLY work comes from the Indian IT contractor who submitted the lowest bid for the job, when the selfsame job for a commercial aircraft would require TENS OF THOUSANDS of certified test results to be submitted for review for EACH RELEASE? (See "Toyota accelerator pedal SW" for further insight.) No thanks, I'll either walk or take the subway - what kind of FOOLS do they think we are???

junko.yoshida
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Re: GM selects my carrier
junko.yoshida   2/26/2014 12:49:12 PM
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As the analyst tells me, for telematics services OnStar is providing today, certainlly, it wouldn't require a lot of bandwidth. But by adding LTE modem to a car, GM can be in a driving seat, so to speak, to evolve OnStar into something differnt, which might include even infotainment services.

Now, that's where the trouble comes in. How will GM decouple the future services that would require a lot of data (and naturally a data plan with a cellular operator) from whatever data plan drivers already have with their cell phones?

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