We have data plans for smart phones, but for cars? Audi and T-Mobile announced, on Thursday, an alliance to do just that, offer a data-plan for cars. Makes one wonder how soon cars will routinely sport SIM-card slots, but this is an outgrowth of a trend towards making cars into mobile computing devices just as cell phones have transitioned into smart phones.
The companies claim the new data plan will offer "in-vehicle connectivity at a fraction of the cost of its competitors’ plans." This connectivity will support real-time news, weather and fuel prices, access to Google Earth and Google Voice Local Search. Additionally it will act as a Wi-Fi hotspot, supporting broadband connectivity with the Internet for up to eight devices.
The new plan is part of the Audi Connect offering which, when launched in 2011, was the first in-vehicle Wi-Fi connectivity service offered by a global auto manufacturer. Audi Connect is part of the infotainment system, and offers features like Google Earth, real-time Sirius XM Traffic information, real-time localized weather, news and fuel prices; Google Voice Local Search, or restaurant or hotel hours, pricing and customer reviews.
The data plan starts at $15 per month, if you buy a 30 month package for $450. On a month-month basis the data plan is $30 a month.
Which begs the question of whether it's to pay for a data plan on the smart phone or tablet, or pay for the data plan on the car? This is definitely what we call a First World Problem.
The Wi-Fi hotspot feature is intended for passenger use only. Audi wants us to pay careful attention to the road, and do not drive while distracted. That means no Facebook while driving. You've been warned.
“Audi and T-Mobile worked closely to develop the new pricing plan based on extensive research and feedback from both dealers and customers,” said Anupam Malhotra, Senior Manager, Connected Vehicle, Audi of America. “The T-Mobile-powered Audi connect service delivers unmatched connectivity to our customers at a rate that will turn their Audi into the ultimate mobile device. This plan will help move us toward the goal of one million connected Audi vehicles on the road worldwide by 2015.”
"Customers want to have the wireless experience they want when they want it – at home, at work, or in their car. Through our partnership with Audi, customers can now access award-winning in-vehicle service and virtually unlimited data access for as little as $15 per month,” said Rusty Lhamon, Director of M2M at T-Mobile.