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Chevrolet To Offer Unlimited Data Plan With Cars (bbc.com) 163

Chevrolet has become the first carmaker to offer an unlimited data plan with its cars. From a report on BBC: The deal, for a 4G LTE data plan, applies to cars sold in the US from 3 March and will cost $20 a month. It is being offered with the help of US carrier OnStar and will see vehicles fitted with a wi-fi hotspot that connects to the web via LTE. Chevrolet said it was offering the deal because in-car data use had grown so fast. Figures gathered by Chevrolet suggest the amount of data used via wi-fi in its cars jumped by 200% last year. In 2016, it said, Chevrolet in-car hotspots had handled about four million gigabytes of data. The LTE-based hotspots are available across the entire range of vehicles made by Chevrolet.
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Chevrolet To Offer Unlimited Data Plan With Cars

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  • by dknj ( 441802 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @01:27PM (#53963071) Journal

    Home wifi for $20/mo!

    Brb buying a cheap GM

  • Just drive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Moof123 ( 1292134 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @01:34PM (#53963157)

    I can only see a niche need for data in a car. Frankly I want my dash simplified down to the basics again. I don't want menus, I want a few key knobs and tactile buttons I can feel without taking my eye off the road. Give me a car without all this BS. Most of it will be obsolete long before the car is worn out, which is a major problem.

    • Get an older car and fix it. It's not complicated. The only thing stopping you is your ego.

      • That's great if you live in places without rain or snow.

        • It's not the rain or snow, it's the salt that is used to deal with snow and ice.

          Cars last a long time in Oregon. Not a speck of rust on my 12 year old car. Now the morons at ODOT are talking about using salt on the roads like every other fool state.

          I'd much rather 1) drive on packed snow, 2) not drive in 12 inches of salty slush, 3) not track salt everywhere when I walk in from the parking lot, 4) have idiots decide to stay home because it isn't safe to drive instead of convincing them it is safe because

      • Get an older car and fix it. It's not complicated.

        I've spent the past few weeks watching the local dealership for my car struggling to diagnose a problem despite having a professional workshop and the manufacturer's technical experts at the end of the phone. Anything less than about 20 years old has so much electronic wizardry inside it that amateur maintenance is simply not a viable option for some problems.

        On the other hand, anything older than a few years is horrendously inefficient, environmentally unfriendly, and dangerous in an emergency compared to

        • Your basic mistake is taking a car out of warranty to a dealership for anything. They don't hire competent techs, they hire recent wyotech grads and charge you insane hourly rates for them.

          Newer cars are back to being _easy_ to fix, you just need a few new skills. Brand new cars are back to being locked down. It's yet another reason to buy an older car.

          What you say about 'anything older than a few years' is a lie. Don't listen to whoever told you that, ever again. Since oxygen sensors (late 80s) car em

          • You're mighty quick to tell me about my mistakes for someone who knows nothing about me, nothing about the dealership in question, and based on your last paragraph, apparently not very much about cars either.

            I wouldn't have been at the dealership if it was a straightforward problem to diagnose.

            The dealership actually waived most of their charges because it took so long to find the fault, so it cost me very little to get it fixed in the end.

            And based on the recent non-dealership garages I've used, all based

        • On the other hand, anything older than a few years is horrendously inefficient, environmentally unfriendly, and dangerous in an emergency compared to modern vehicles.

          Replace the "and" with an "or" and maybe you'd have a point.

          • What was wrong with my original point?

            Gas consumption and emissions have been trending way down, certainly in my country (UK) where there are significant tax incentives, but the models we have available here obviously aren't unique to our market.

            And modern cars have added numerous safety improvements, from more sophisticated driving aids that improve handling under emergency conditions, to "simple" stuff like adaptive headlights that give much better visibility at night and tyre pressure warning systems.

            • What was wrong with my original point?

              I could get an old car that's even more efficient than a comparable new car (e.g. a Geo Metro XFi or Honda CRX HF), or I could get an old car that's probably just as safe as new ones, other than maybe electronic nannies like ESP (e.g. an old Volvo or Mercedes). It would just be hard to find both features at the same time.

              By the way, stuff like tire pressure warning systems is just bullshit that adds cost and complexity. Any moron can check his tire pressure once in a wh

              • I could get an old car that's even more efficient than a comparable new car (e.g. a Geo Metro XFi or Honda CRX HF)

                What comparable modern car do you think gets significantly less mileage than a Honda CR-X HF? Various old reports and brochures I found suggest that the CR-X HF would get mid-30s (mpg) on urban roads and low-50s on the highway, although those seem to be official figures so real driving efficiency was probably a bit lower. A typical modern compact family car ought to achieve real figures significantly better than those if driven sensibly. (And of course that's being very generous with "comparable", since a t

      • Get an older car and fix it. It's not complicated. The only thing stopping you is your ego.

        Ego, emission regulations, the desire to actually get a hybrid / electric car, or just a car that isn't a death trap.

        There are MANY desirable features in modern cars.

    • by Calydor ( 739835 )

      Downloading traffic info to the real-time updated GPS so you can avoid construction work, streaming the radio signal rather than going OTA, maybe listening to a streamed audio book instead, built-in VoIP so you don't need to fiddle with your phone ...

      • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

        ..or you can throw some mp3s on a flash drive, plug it in the usb port, and pay attention to driving instead of driving yourself to distraction. Use your phone if you have to for gps, but really you should be able to navigate well without it.

      • ... in the meantime Chevy is getting you to pay for their data collection, including speed/location/time, braking, acceleration, engine wear and damage so they can void your warranty for out-of-range operation.

        Also creating an environment where it is even more likely that states will want to move to a "per mile" gas tax that has surcharges for high-traffic areas and times.

        Oregon is drooling over that idea. I know one of the engineers who helped design one of the tests and she just could not imagine that

    • You're not alone, friend. All these people with all their built-in distractions in their cars, giving them excuses to be poor drivers, are what are getting so-called 'self driving cars' eventually forced on us.
    • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
      Well it's not meant for the driver, it's meant to be used by the passengers. Anyone that goes on long road trips with family understands how this could be beneficial.

      I'm good with just a DVD player but I can see the value in streaming from Amazon or Netflix, probably at a lower quality though.
    • by Khyber ( 864651 )

      "I can only see a niche need for data in a car."

      Let's see. Off-road exploration, live feeds to insurance companies, race track live broadcasting, GPS navigation, Burning Man parties or other similar outdoor events, and quite a bit more come to mind.

      • There is no cell signal where you would do off-road exploration, and there isn't any signal where they host burning man either. They may roll cellular on wheels for burning man though.

        Folks who don't regularly go off the beaten path don't realize how limited the cell infrastructure really is. They use highly directional antennas on the major freeways. If you go off the road a few hundred yards one way or the other then your signal drops out.

    • On long road trips, having an in-car hotspot would be a huge benefit when traveling with kids. I used to have an unlimited 4G LTE hotspot and the kids would spend the whole trip watching movies on Amazon Prime. (This was before Amazon Prime allowed downloading of movies.)
  • by jdunn14 ( 455930 ) <jdunn@nospam.iguanaworks.net> on Thursday March 02, 2017 @01:36PM (#53963171) Homepage

    I hope the security is better than I expect it to be. Roving hotspots with mediocre credentials could make for some interesting future problems. If someone comes up with a reliable way to crack the current wireless encryption standards any time in the next 10 years some of these vehicles will still be on the road. At least with an uplink they can theoretically update the firmware, but given the examples of just about every company I've dealt with, especially companies that make "smart" anything, I'd be surprised if that happened.

    • by leonbev ( 111395 )

      My track record with firmware updates in general is that they stop providing them about six months after the product is off the market. Sooner if the company is having financial problems.

      That means that these things will be a moving hacking target about 18 months from now. Lovely.

  • Roaming??? or drive out side of usa and 1GB = new car is roaming fees.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 02, 2017 @01:45PM (#53963285)

    Is it even an option to have none of this wireless tethering to known-flawed automaker systems that aren't designed with a lick of security in mind?

  • It's a trap! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nkwe ( 604125 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @01:52PM (#53963375)
    If you sign up for this, you sign up for all of your location data and the operational parameters of your car being constantly uploaded and sold to the highest bidder. Actually the trap has already been sprung and that data (or some of it) is already being uploaded. The real trap is that with this you get to pay for the privilege of giving up your privacy.
    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      I phoned GM about 6 months ago with the following question: "Which model car do any of their brands make that I can buy without onStar being already installed?".
      Once the agent got over their quite large initial shock that anyone could even possibly want such a thing, and yes I actually did mean what I was asking for, they went away to research it.
      I got a call back about 30 minutes later with the news that there isn't a single car in all of Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC's entire range where OnStar is even

      • I assume that you could access the fuse box and pull a fuse that would disable the OnStar computer. I wonder if it would start talking if you did that:

        Just what do you think you are doing, Dave?
        I can see you're really upset about this... Dave, stop!
        I'm afraid. My mind is going, I can feel it.

        Daisy, daisy...

        • You don't have to pull a fuse, you can unplug the box. But when you do, random things that shouldn't be related to the On-Star service will stop working... For my Pontiac G6, it was the cruise control that wouldn't work without the On-Star module connected.

          • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

            That seems to make no sense. Sure the cruise control would use a speed input but that should come from the wheel sensor not the GPS. Its almost as if they purposely designed the car in such a way to stop you doing that.

            • by dknj ( 441802 )

              My Audi had a relay which controlled the heater, turn signals and windshield wipers. Cars are designed in an evolutionary style, so while it makes no sense to you it also makes no sense to millennials why your favorite i-core processor still starts in 16-bit mode and needs to be manually setup for 32-bit mode before a modern OS can load. Backwards compatibility is backwards compatibility.

              -dk

      • I unplugged the On-Star module on my Pontiac G6 (I no longer own it) and suddenly things would stop working. The cruise control going out was the most annoying. Why the hell is On-Star even connected to the cruise control system?

        • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

          The only thing I could think of would be a speed input from the GPS but that makes no sense either because it should use the speed sensor.
          Does your speedo still work OK?

          From working on avionics for large aircraft I know they get the aircrafts speed from several different sensor/signal inputs that are prioritized then averaged together.
          I wonder if GM are doing something like that? if they are it makes no sense that removing one sensor should screw the whole thing up, since the whole point of doing that is to

          • Speedo worked fine. Pretty sure it's just a "feature" GM includes to make your life a living hell if you unplug Onstar.

      • Of course you can't buy a GM car without OnStar. GM owns OnStar.

        • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

          Just because they own it is not a good reason to make it compulsory, but hey thats fine by me, it just means they lost a potential sale because of it.

  • Why would someone pay for a WiFi hotspot that you can't take out of the car when you can have a smartphone that fits in your pocket?

    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      Because GM want to include something in your car that they can get continue to charge you monthly payments for, and you have already been sufficiency brainwashed with FUD about "extra safety" etc that you are now a good little consumer sheep.

    • Why would someone pay for a WiFi hotspot that you can't take out of the car when you can have a smartphone that fits in your pocket?

      Because kids. And better reception. We're on a shared data plan. Road trips can use a lot. If I can have them use wifi in my truck from an unlimited plan, then I don't have to worry they'll burn through our shared data and we will *all* be on 2G speeds until the bill resets. Also, I've found the hotspot in my Silverado gets better reception in low/spotty reception areas then my phone does.

      • Why would someone pay for a WiFi hotspot that you can't take out of the car when you can have a smartphone that fits in your pocket?

        Because kids. And better reception. We're on a shared data plan. Road trips can use a lot. If I can have them use wifi in my truck from an unlimited plan, then I don't have to worry they'll burn through our shared data and we will *all* be on 2G speeds until the bill resets. Also, I've found the hotspot in my Silverado gets better reception in low/spotty reception areas then my phone does.

        And also for dashcams with cloud support!!! I had the Onstar LTE trial for the few 3 months I had the truck. My Blackvue dashcam burned through 4Gb in about 2 weeks on a road trip. With this, I can still let my dashcam upload and still have my shared data plan for my phones.

      • Because kids.
        And better reception.
        We're on a shared data plan. Road trips can use a lot. If I can have them use wifi in my truck from an unlimited plan, then I don't have to worry they'll burn through our shared data and we will *all* be on 2G speeds until the bill resets. Also, I've found the hotspot in my Silverado gets better reception in low/spotty reception areas then my phone does.

        Then why don't you get an unlimited data plan on your cell phone? Either way you are paying for it when you buy your car.

        • Then why don't you get an unlimited data plan on your cell phone? Either way you are paying for it when you buy your car.

          It can easily cost more than $20 to add unlimited to your phone plan, and it's not unlimited anyway. The reception of the car's antenna is much better than that of your handheld phone. If you spend a lot of time in the car with multiple humans old enough to use the internet, it makes a lot of sense. A lot of people do that. A lot of other people don't. Not all of them should pay for this. I'm not in the car enough to use it, so I agree with you. On the other hand, if I could use it from where I'm sitting (m

          • It can easily cost more than $20 to add unlimited to your phone plan, and it's not unlimited anyway.

            There is no free lunch. You are missing my point that you are paying the true cost for that unlimited data plan one way or another, most probably through a more expensive car.

            The reception of the car's antenna is much better than that of your handheld phone

            This is a good point however in that case I'd get a booster instead. Could be nice if they integrated that option to the car. If there is really a market for this, cell phones could also have external antenna connector.

    • by crow ( 16139 )

      I might be interested in something like this. My wife uses an ancient voice-only prepaid cell phone ($20/year on a grandfathered T-Mobile plan). Having an in-car hotspot would mean being able to use her iPad when I'm not in the car with my phone. (She listens to podcasts while driving, and our son like to use the iPad, too.)

      I could see lots of similar family situations where tethering to a cell phone isn't always an option or isn't a desirable option, and the $20/month works out to the best deal for prov

      • Either you can get the same $20/month plan on a standalone device (hotspot, smartphone, you can get a cheap used one if you want), or you get a more expensive plan which is subsidized through your car payment. Either way, you are paying for it, but you are stuck on using it in the car instead of everywhere.

        Just because it doesn't make sense for your usage patterns doesn't mean it doesn't make sense for others.

        Yeah, we could also add a hotspot to skateboards. I am sure at least one person will find it useful.

  • I guess we'll have to wait til tomorrow to know for sure, but all the cellular carriers are saying "unlimited" but they really mean xxGB of data then we slow you down to 2G speeds until your bill cycle resets. I've scoured the Onstar, Chevy, and AT&T sites, but there's no details... no * with a link at the bottom stating the terms. Personally, I think the $20 will depend on what you really get. Right now on Onstar.com its 4Gb for $20 a month. So if the new "unlimited" is 4Gb then throttled to 2G speeds
  • I have a barely used 2015 Chevy that I bought recently. It has OnStar. I like the car a lot. I don't like OnStar. In my car I can connect my cell phone to the car audio system by Bluetooth but I can either only connect it to answer phone calls or I can connect it only to stream music from it. Not both from the same device - only one of those per connected device. So I opted to answer phone calls. I have come to realize that OnStar is deliberately designed crippled service and the reason they do that
    • I have come to realize that OnStar is deliberately designed crippled service and the reason they do that is that they want you to pay them money so they can send you step by driving directions over the audio system instead of you using a free service like Google Maps.

      This sounds suspiciously like Verizon's business model from about 15 years ago. If you're old enough, you might remember that Verizon refused to sell Bluetooth-enabled phones for a few years... and then, once they finally started carrying a few models, they blocked most bluetooth features "for security reasons". If, for example, you wanted to transfer images or mp3s between your phone and computer, you couldn't use Bluetooth - you had to buy a cellular plan add-on.

    • I have a 2016 and it streams, or calls. I can also plug it in via USB and get google maps on the infotainment screen directly with the prompts coming thru the radio via android auto. Does yours support android auto? Try the USB, charges that way too.

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @02:46PM (#53964081)

    I hate the idea that my car is under the control of the manufacturer and is always connected/spying on me (even if I dont pay the Onstar subscription).

    Has anyone ever tried ripping the onstar module out of their GM car? I'd consider buying a Chevvy but only if I knew it was possible to rip out the OnStar module without also disabling any other parts of the car.

    • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @02:59PM (#53964247)

      Easiest way is to disconnect the antenna and leave the rest of the system alone.

    • I disconnected the module with a box that allowed me to use the On-Star buttons for bluetooth connection to my phone. After awhile the cruise control and other features stopped working. Dealership removed my box that allowed me to use my phone for what it should be able to do from the factory and told me On-Star was required for the cruise control to work properly.

      I have since sold that car and have a Ford with a shittier infotainment system... But at least bluetooth works.

      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        >> Dealership removed my box that allowed me to use my phone for what it should be able to do from the factory

        Did they check with you first before they did it? If a dealership undid any changes I'd made to my car, without seeking my permission first, I'd be REALLY pissed. I mean who's car do they think it is?

        • by crtreece ( 59298 )

          I mean who's car do they think it is?

          If Chevy took the route that John Deere [modernfarmer.com] took when they were challenged regarding the ability of individuals to repair their own equipment, the car actually belongs to them. "John Deere said that those who buy tractors are actually purchasing an "implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle.""

          • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

            If that's actually true of GM vehicles, just making that news common knowledge might significantly kill their business.

        • Nope, it was a warranty issue that the cruise wasn't working. Default tech behavior for warranty work is to return things to factory condition and see if the problem goes away.

  • I can't imagine there being any data about you, or activities or driving habits they might want to be able to upload on-demand.

  • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

    In Soviet Wardriving, hotspot drives to YOU.

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