Well, there goes the license plate game. At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, AT&T and Audi announced Tuesday that they were working together to provide 4G LTE service to every 2016 model Audi through the
manufacturer's Connect system.
"The convenience and added benefit of having Audi Connect services in our vehicles, along with Wi-Fi access for up to eight devices, serves as a competitive advantage for our brand," said Filip Brabec, director of product management at Audi of America, in a joint statement issued by the two companies. "We have been, and intend to remain, innovators in this field through relationships like this one with AT&T."
Better Maps, Traffic Data
The high-speed connection will enable Audi to provide its purchasers with better map updates, real-time traffic information, social media connectivity and Internet radio. For instance, the Audi navigation system will now feature updates from Google Earth and Google Street View.
The announcement by the two companies follows a successful roll-out of a pilot 4G LTE program last year in the Audi A3.
"Our relationship with Audi has allowed us to improve the in-car experience, beginning with the A3 last year, the first 4G LTE connected car in the U.S.," said Chris Penrose, senior vice president for the Internet of Things at AT&T Mobility.
Audi is not the only automobile company working to incorporate Internet connectivity into its vehicles. General Motors, for instance, offers LTE speed connections in a number of different models, and most other car manufacturers, particularly of higher-end vehicles, are expected to follow suit fairly quickly.
Given consumer reliance on mobile devices and Internet access, it is likely that this type of feature will rapidly be viewed as a standard feature by car buyers.
More Data Plans for AT&T
Each Audi will come re-equipped with an AT&T SIM chip (basically, the car will have its own phone number), which will give the telecommunications firm the opportunity to either sign up new high-speed data subscribers or up-sell existing customers on a fatter data plan.
According to one report, Audi sold more than 180,000 vehicles last year, which represents a non-trivial pool of potential revenue for AT&T.
Left for another day are questions about possible safety, security and privacy concerns, including driver distraction, hacking, digital hijacking, data collection and unwanted vehicular surveillance.
The fact that each Connect system can handle as many as eight devices should satisfy all but the most technologically equipped family.
Child development specialists, however, will undoubtedly raise concerns about another marketing development that will enable children to spend even more time staring at screens and less time interacting with others or the outside world. To be fair, of course, that ship sailed some time ago: in 2002, Honda was the first automobile company to install DVD players as standard equipment for young minivan passengers, shooting an arrow through the heart of the license plate game.
Posted: 2015-03-04 @ 6:05pm PT
Unless they let me opt out, I will not buy an Audi. I am in the market for a car, not for a supersized AT&T phone. Even if AT&T is not Supercookie-Verizon, I want to choose which cellular service provider to use, if any. I also want to control whom my car connects to and when. I do not want Google, Facebook, or other consumer marketers in my car. I want ad-free GPS maps or no GPS maps at all. I do not want to be re-routed to the next spending opportunity. My time, my money, my rules. Goodbye Audi.