NEW YORK Feb 25 General Motors Co has
chosen AT&T Inc to provide high-speed wireless service for
its 2015 car models, dropping its long-term provider Verizon
OnStar - best known for connecting drivers to live operators
who provide directions or summon emergency help after an
accident - will start using AT&T in its 2015 models, which go on
sale in mid-2014.
The companies will discuss their partnership on Monday at
the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona.
GM is hoping to boost car sales and OnStar subscriptions by
expanding its offering to include advanced applications such as
video streaming for passengers for most of its Chevrolet, Buick,
GMC and Cadillac models.
It is also looking into possibilities such as wirelessly
sending customers alerts about possible engine problems or
sending data or even video from a car to the owner's mobile
device to show what's going on next to the vehicle in case of
any problems, according to Phil Abram, a GM executive director.
For their part both AT&T and Verizon Wireless, a venture of
Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc,
have been ramping up efforts to expand their services beyond
cellphones as they seek to continue growing in a market in which
most people already have smartphones.
GM said that Verizon Wireless, which has been the company's
wireless provider since 1996, would still support OnStar
services for all existing GM vehicles and any new models that
come out before the 2015 models are launched.
Abram declined to say exactly why the company was switching
to AT&T but said that "AT&T's vision with what we want to do
with the connected vehicle was very highly aligned."
Abram also declined to comment on the terms of the deal with
AT&T or how the service will be priced. OnStar has more than 6
million customers in the United States, Canada and China and
charges $18.95 a month for its most basic service, or $28.90 a
month for its premium package.
AT&T already has wireless deals with car makers including
Ford Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co.
But the OnStar agreement is its biggest deal so far,
according to Glenn Lurie, president of the AT&T division that is
dedicated to expanding wireless connections beyond phones.
"Economically we're very very happy with the deal," he said.
Lurie would not provide pricing details for the service but
the OnStar subscribers could potentially add their car to an
AT&T shared data plan, which allows customers to add multiple
devices to a single account.
"You could see the car be another device in your portfolio
of devices," Lurie said.
Such an arrangement could help improve the popularity of
connected car services, according to Forrester Research analyst
Charles Golvin said.
"It could lower the barrier to adoption if a customer could
add their car as another device on their AT&T plan rather than
having to opt in to OnStar and pay a separate bill every month,"
Lurie said he expects roughly 20 million new cars sold from
2015 to 2018 to have wireless connections, citing an analyst
estimate that roughly half of U.S. cars would be connected by