GM, AT&T team up to bring 4G LTE connections to cars

BARCELONA—By late 2014, millions of General Motors cars, trucks, and crossovers will have their own 4G LTE cellular connections, courtesy of AT&T.

On Monday, GM announced that it had signed a deal with AT&T to deliver a new generation of connected vehicles with built-in 4G LTE mobile broadband. GM said the first vehicles to get 4G LTE will be “most” 2015 Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, and GMC cars, trucks, and crossovers. These cars will hit U.S. and Canadian roads in late 2014.

If you’re into connected cars, this is actually pretty cool. According to GM, customers can look forward to such benefits as speedy app downloads, real-time updates, streaming video entertainment (in the rear seat, naturally), and the ability turn a connected vehicle into a Wi-Fi hotspot for tablets, laptops, and other mobile devices.

“In addition to allowing consumers to bring in and connect to personal mobile devices, the vehicle will also act as its own mobile device, enabling embedded vehicle capabilities,” Mary Chan, president of GM’s Global Connected Consumer department, said in a statement. “Through this built-in 4G LTE connection we have the opportunity to reinvent the mobile experience inside a vehicle.”

Right now, most “connected” cars have, at most, a 2G connection for basic features, such as enhanced navigation. Cars sporting 2G connections never let users stream music or video—if users want to stream apps such as Pandora and Aha Radio, they have to use their smartphones’ cellular connections. Even the high-tech Tesla Model S only has 3G, though Tesla does let its users stream music over that connection.

GM

GM also plans to work with third-party developers who want to create apps that will specifically take advantage of the new vehicles’ speedy connection. At CES 2013, GM launched a developer portal to help third-party developers design apps for its infotainment platform.

“Developers will be able to take full advantage of 4G LTE speeds as they design vehicle-specific apps, and they can pursue development knowing that they’ll have a broad base of potential customers as connectivity is built-in across GM brands and regions,” Chan said.

Updated on February 27 with a video report.

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