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GM adding AT&T LTE service to 'most' vehicles starting next year

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Cadillac ELR
Cadillac ELR

GM has announced this morning that it will start deploying LTE service from AT&T in its 2014 cars and trucks to deliver drivers "enhanced suite of safety, security, diagnostic and infotainment services." It's a common theme in the auto industry: BMW and Audi have both made announcements around in-vehicle LTE in recent months, but GM's move promises to be the widest-scale deployment of high-speed wireless in cars to date.

Fast data for fast cars (and slow ones, too)

The companies aren't saying exactly how the connectivity will be used when it shows up in production models from Chevy, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac, but it promises to show off what it calls "conceptual" LTE services here at MWC 2013 this week. Also unclear is how the service will be billed or priced: there aren't any announcements being made at this point, but AT&T's Glenn Lurie noted that low-bandwidth services (uploads of diagnostic data from the car to your dealer, for instance) could be free or billed by the manufacturer, while higher-bandwidth services could be billed directly by AT&T or even bundled in a subscriber's Mobile Share plan alongside phones and tablets.

The deal is something of a coup for AT&T: it appears to have stolen ownership for GM's next-gen OnStar connectivity from Verizon, which had partnered with GM on a connected car concept as recently as CES 2012. By the time the first LTE-enabled cars roll off GM's assembly lines, AT&T should have at least 250 million Americans covered by the service; for the rest, cars will fall back to the older HSPA network.