Holden cars could have wi-fi hotspots

Last updated 14:58 27/02/2013
Holden reveals new VF Commodore.
Fairfax NZ Zoom
Holden reveals new VF Commodore.
Holden VF Commodore SS-V.
Revealed: A show car with one-off metallic orange paint shows off the look of the new Holden VF Commodore SS-V.
2013 VF Commodore ute.
2013 VF Commodore ute.

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General Motors to adopt 4G service next year, allowing for hotspots and video streaming to cars

General Motors will begin offering 4G service in vehicles next year in a partnership with AT&T, opening up the opportunity for future Holdens to begin offering mobile wi-fi hot spots and streaming video in its cars.

The faster mobile data speed will first be available in most 2015 model year vehicles (released in 2014) in the United States and Canada. The company says additional markets and service providers will be announced in coming months, raising the possibility that it will be available on the new VF Commodore at some time during its product cycle. The technology won't be available on the vehicle when it is launched in May, but is likely to be part of a longer term roll-out strategy.

Holden's director of external communications, Craig Cheetham, says the technology could take some time to reach vehicles in Australia and New Zealand.

"This is not something that will be available in Holdens immediately but naturally we continue to evaluate all of GM's global technology when relevant to the market," he says.

GM says the move is the largest commercial deployment of 4G LTE (long term evolution) services in the car industry. 

"We're making a global commitment to embed 4G LTE (long term evolution) mobile broadband across all of our vehicles," Mary Chan, president of GM's Global Connected Consumer, said in an interview.

The new VF Commodore will come with a new electrical architecture that has been developed to be compatible with GM systems worldwide, so it theoretically could benefit from any upgrade of GM's OnStar in-car communications system.

The fact that VF Commodore will be exported from Australia to the United States as a Chevrolet SS from later this year also makes the 4G upgrade more likely at some stage. 

Long-term evolution, or LTE, is a higher speed, fourth-generation wireless technology compared with third-generation, or 3G. LTE allows mobile users to load videos and stream music as much as 10 times faster than 3G, according to the statement.

With 4G, GM said it could include in-vehicle wi-fi hotspots, streaming videos and faster application downloads.

"This enables them to actually have the capabilities to support all kinds of innovative services and needs that consumers may evolve or may desire in the future by having this technology available," said Thilo Koslowski, an industry analyst based in San Jose, California.

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GM didn't disclose pricing details but Chan said the new service would be tailored to customer tastes and budgets. 

"There's going to be different tier levels of service that customers can choose and buy from," Chan said. The faster service won't be available for older vehicles, she said.

-Bloomberg and Fairfax News Australia

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