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Starting with the iconic Chevrolet line, General Motors(s gm) plans to make all of its vehicles LTE-connected cars. Starting this summer, the new 2015 Corvette, Impala, Malibu and Volt will all come with embedded 4G connectivity, GM plans to announce at CES in Las Vegas. GM plans to add LTE to other car and truck models later this year, making the majority of its 2015 Chevy lineup connected by year end.
Though GM last year announced plans to begin connecting all of its U.S. fleet to AT&T’s(s t) LTE network as part of the next generation of its OnStar telematics system, until today it hadn’t released many details about the transition. Today GM cars in the U.S. are connected to Verizon’s(s vz)(s vod) 2G CDMA networks, but the move to LTE means not only much faster speeds to the car, but also an opportunity to for GM and AT&T to upsell a much broader array of mobile data services beyond telematics and roadside assistance.
At a CES media event, GM will into much more detail about what those services would be. All future vehicles, including Cadillacs and Buicks, will eventually come standard with AT&T 4G modules, which will power basic OnStar services, such as remote unlocking and vehicle diagnostics. But customers will get the option of subscribing to additional data services from GM, powering its MyLink infotainment services in the dashboard, as well as buy data plans directly from AT&T.
For the last year, GM has been quietly revamping its connected car platform and developer programs. With the launch of the new 4G cars, drivers will get access to the new platform and an app store called Appshop. GM said the initial catalog would include iHeartRadio, Priceline.com, The Weather Channel, NPR, Slacker Radio, TuneIn Radio, Cityseeker, Eventseeker, Glympse and Kaliki. That new app support will go a long way to help GM catch up with Ford’s Sync AppLink platform, which already hosts many dozens of apps.
While some GM cars today do support smartphone app integration, the options are very limited — some systems like Cadillac’s Cue only support a single app, Pandora(s p). The new MyLink system will eventually bridge all of GM’s different vehicle lines and instead of relying on the driver’s smartphone, it will act as an independent device that hosts and runs its own apps and links to the internet through its own 4G connection.
But relying on an embedded 4G connection also requires owners to subscribe to a separate data plan. GM hasn’t revealed any details on pricing, but it appears car owners will be able to buy data plans from OnStar or AT&T or attach their cars their to their current shared data plans. The connected cars will come with a Wi-Fi access points that will redistribute the AT&T LTE connection to tablets, game consoles and any other Wi-Fi device in the car. GM is basically turning all future cars into mobile private hotspots. It’s just a question of whether customers will pay for the service.
The Corvette, Impala, Malibu and Volt are scheduled for release this summer, but Chevy models released later in the year will also get the LTE treatment. GM said the Equinox, Silverado, Silverado HD, Spark and Spark EV are confirmed as 4G vehicles, and it will announce other models later in the year. There’s still no word yet when Cadillacs and Buick are scheduled for the OnStar 4G overhaul.
This won’t be the last 4G car announcement will hear at CES. All of the major automakers are on hand in Las Vegas. Audi is likely to announce its first 4G car in the U.S. (it’s already launched one Europe) and even a possible partnership with Google(s goog) to put Android into the dashboard.