Are black cars the next battleground for cellular supremacy? AT&T, it seems, is trying to find out.
In a deal with Uber, AT&T will be testing live streaming of college football games to a limited number of Chevy Tahoe SUVs in four cities (Nashville, Detroit, Atlanta, and Houston) over the next two months. Tablets mounted in the back of the Tahoe's headrests will be running AT&T's U-verse app connected to LTE, with wireless headphones providing the sound. (A selection of football stars will also be randomly joining passengers in their rides, but that's likely a limited-time thing that won't continue beyond the trial period.)
Jerome Bettis might show up in your car, also
There is no additional cost for the feature when hailing an Uber car — yet — but for AT&T, it's an advertisement: experiencing TV streaming over its LTE network in a moving vehicle, get impressed, and sign up for its wireless or TV service, the theory would go. From Uber's perspective, it could simply be viewed as a value-add that helps set it apart from Lyft and other car services. And this isn't the first time Uber has toyed with streaming services to boost its core product: last year it launched a Spotify partnership which lets passengers select a Spotify playlist for streaming before they get into the car.
AT&T is ramping up its push for the connected car, opening "garages" in Atlanta and Silicon Valley that help developers get their in-vehicle products working on AT&T's network. As smartphone adoption saturates, AT&T and other carriers are looking for ways to convince subscribers to tack on additional devices to their monthly plans at additional cost; a recent deal with GM, for instance, connects its cars to AT&T's LTE network for an additional fee on their OnStar plans. For getting data usage up, there isn't much that works better than live streaming television.