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AT&T And Automakers Collaborating For Value Added Services

May 18, 2015 - Written By David Steele

It’s difficult to sympathize with carriers. They run the infrastructure and provide at least some of the connection from a cell phone (or tablet) to the wider world. Yes; customers can use WiFi networks and yes, some carriers rely heavily on WiFi and run their own hotspots, but most of us rely on our chosen carrier for the wider area network connection between our device and the wider world, be it for voice calling, text messages or the Internet connection. Most customers would also like their carrier to provide them with a simple, fuss-free, reliable, quick connection and we don’t so much care for their value added features. Those applications installed on your device that you can’t get rid of? Those gimmicky freebies that you get through using their services? Yes; not all bundled offers are worthless (indeed a great many are handy) but a large number of the population would rather our carrier stops interfering with our device and software updates and instead invests this money into improving or maintaining their network.

However, it’s not just our smartphones and tablets that have a carrier supported connection to the world these days. All manner of devices is gaining a connection from smartwatches through to our cars. And when it comes to our cars, AT&T are working with a number of partners to bring us value added services when we use our car’s Internet connection. Reuters is running a report detailing how AT&T is preparing to bring connected car users special content (such as videos and games) that may be streamed onto personal mobile devices later this year, but exclusively for people sitting in a car using the personal hotspot. AT&T’s senior vice president of emerging devices Chris Penrose had this to say on the matter: “It’s no different than being able to hook onto a Wi-Fi hotspot anywhere and get access to content you already subscribe to and get unique content that you could only get in the back of the vehicle.” We understand that AT&T has signed up eight automakers as partners, including General Motors, Ford and Audi, so as to provide in-vehicle WiFi. Ultimately the plan is for customers to access the free content and ultimately buy more data. AT&T’s discussion with content companies includes bringing new content (special shows and unique levels are the two examples given) plus subscription services such as Hulu and Netflix.

It’s an interesting idea and one that should encourage customers, or perhaps their children sitting in the back, to use more data and it’s one that we’ve already seen in the industry. However, AT&T appears to be taking things further such as exploring business models including revenue share for data, content and advertising between automakers, content and retail partners.