Thursday, March 23, 2017

Chevy, AT&T To Offer $20 Unlimited Data Plan For Cars

General Motors Co. has announced it will offer a $20 a month prepaid unlimited data plan through AT&T for 4.1 million Chevrolet and other GM vehicles in the U.S. that are equipped with OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.

The new plan includes Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles with the hotspot. It comes after GM said Chevy owners in the U.S. used more than 4 million gigabytes of data last year. Chevrolet has sold more than 3.1 million vehicles since June 2014 equipped with OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspots and says it has more vehicles with a 4G LTE connection on the road than any other carmaker.

The Detroit News reports GM hopes the new plan will boost subscriptions for data use, said Vijay Iyer, director of global communications for GM, Global Connected Customer Experience and Urban Mobility. GM would not disclose how many data subscribers it has.

OnStar currently charges $40 a month for 10 gigabytes of data. Data passes also are available for $5 for 250 megabytes of data per day, or 20 gigabytes used over 12 months for $150. Data plans are available through AT&T or through OnStar.

GM said it will offer the $10 a month plan for 1 gigabyte, the $20 a month unlimited plan and the daily and 12-month passes going forward.

That dollar number is a milestone in the continuing price war among mobile phone carriers for unlimited data to slake the media thirst of consumers eager to stream music and movies at any time, anywhere, without limit. Extending that battle into cars is a powerful move for GM, an important selling point to car buyers, and a possible acceleration of the challenge facing traditional radio as screens filled with apps replace dial-and-button receivers.

Currently, in-car connectivity to internet media is accomplished mainly via the smartphone’s data connection. It is the phone which powers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, leading providers of digital dashboard control of infotainment. That connection scenario adds a step to the process of accessing the phone’s online audio apps (e.g. Pandora, Spotify, podcasts).

The challenge to terrestrial radio is not existential, according to RAIN. There will always be demand for radio’s personality, locality, and real-time information. The key challenge is a progressive inversion of ease: In other words, as online audio becomes easier to play in the car, radio will become less easy as the dials and buttons disappear. Ease of use is a key determinant of what consumers use. As radio becomes one app among many in a car’s connected screen, choices are equalized.

The GM/AT&T venture points toward an ultimate realization of the connected car trend, which is that the car becomes a big smartphone that you sit in.

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