Tesla Inks Deal To Bring AT&T Wireless To Connected Cars
October 18, 2013

Tesla Chooses AT&T As Service Provider For Connected Cars

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Electric-car manufacturer Tesla Motors has selected AT&T to provide high-speed wireless services to its vehicles, Chris Penrose, senior VP of emerging technologies at the Dallas-based telecom firm, announced on Thursday.

Speaking at the GigaOM Mobilize 2013 conference, Penrose said that AT&T’s wireless networks would be features in Tesla’s connected cars, and that they would provide two-way vehicle communications, remote engine diagnostics, and infotainment features for Elon Musk’s automotive company.

“We believe that our ability to bring total solutions into the space is something that is being demanded, and something that we can excel and differentiate. Not just being a connectivity partner,” the AT&T executive said during his presentation at the event, according to GigaOM’s Lauren Hockenson. “We think that you should have the ability to turn your car on as a mobile hotspot for your trip, even if you haven’t subscribed to a data plan.”

All of the electronic automobile manufacturer’s products will come equipped with AT&T network chips, said Bloomberg writers Scott Moritz and Alan Ohnsman. In addition to powering roadside assistance and stolen-vehicle location services, the agreement will also allow Internet access, navigation services, and entertainment functions on a 17-inch touch screen, they added. Terms of the deal between AT&T and Tesla were not disclosed.

The two companies had previously partnered on the Tesla Model S, as the telecom giant supplied a cellular connection primarily for “infotainment” purposes, explained Roger Cheng of CNET. Now, AT&T will provide the automaker with a 3G or HSPA+ (AT&T’s version of 4G) connection to Tesla’s vehicles, as well as modems and SIM cards that will allow for “better remote diagnostic and maintenance” and provide “real-time traffic info” for drivers, he added.

“Unlike conventional cars, Tesla’s Model S receives wireless programming updates via an installed cellular system to improve vehicle operations. Such updates typically occur when the car is recharging overnight,” Moritz and Ohnsman said. “Navigation, mapping and data functions in the Model S also rely on the cellular system. Some owners have said the speed of refreshing Google Maps displayed in the car needs an upgrade.”

Tesla, whose cars are available to the public for as low as $70,000, is not the only automotive company to ink a deal like this with AT&T. In February, General Motors (GM) selected the Texas-based firm to replace Verizon Wireless as the provider for their OnStar service starting with 2015 models, and Nissan has also partnered with AT&T. That’s good news for the telecom company, who has experienced a “slowing” in the growth of their core mobile phone service and is in search of a new source of revenue, according to Mortiz and Ohnsman.