OnStar of General Motors (GM) and AT&T have announced on Monday an agreement to set up 4G LTE services to automobiles, including most Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles, which will be replacing the services previously offered by Verizon. This agreement will allow AT&T to implement 4G LTE into millions of cars, trucks and utility vehicles, which will provide the safety and security services that are offered by OnStar, and is said to be delivered in 2014 to the US and Canada. Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility said in the press release:
"We're working closely with GM to grow the connected car base, and provide unique and relevant services that will improve the connected experience inside automobiles for both drivers and passengers."
He also asserted that the company is in its best position to be putting 4G LTE into these vehicles, and will be a "game-changing" opportunity. The experience would include Internet access, with streaming media, applications and a video player for the back seat. In addition to those smart features, there will be an in-vehicle Wi-Fi hotspot capability that will even allow voice call.
When driving, timing is crucial as to when you get your info, and getting a slow connection while using services, such as navigation, is a bit unsettling when you need that information sooner than later. However, with the high speed of LTE, new possibilities open up for services, which in turn allows faster speeds for improving vehicle tracking in case of an emergency, ensuring regular vehicle maintenance, and of course, streaming videos for the back seat passengers.
"We're going to deliver a set of tools in the car that no one has ever seen before," Glenn Lurie said, president of emerging devices, AT&T. So these will be different, and presumably more advanced, features from the older services which were first introduced in 1996. Other features include a personal voice assistant, which is a handy feature to have, as it provides hands-free speech services aimed at keeping the driver focused on driving. This would range anywhere from locking or unlocking the door, starting the engine, and assistance in finding your vehicle. This technology is important for it to be accurate, and according to AT&T, it has been in research by the company for decades, and is called the WatsonSM speech engine.
Moving on, there were talks of GM giving developers a Software Development Kit (SDK), which will give the option of adding applications to the car after purchase, and offer a solid, flexible framework for developers. It's safe to say that there will be built-in applications prior to purchase. A press release yesterday stated that "AT&T has certified and supports nearly 1,300 varieties of connected devices." which will likely be smartphones and other media devices, and will afford plenty of room for choice in the matter.
General Motors will be giving previews of conceptual connected services this week at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, and we will keep you up to date with the latest as it comes.