Chrysler will become the first car maker to offer Internet capability Aug. 25, when its parts division begins selling a Mopar car cellular/Wi-Fi hot spot and EV-DO cellular connection.
Called Uconnect Web, it will be sold and installed through Chrysler dealers. It is compatible with 2009 Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles as well as earlier models. Consumers can order new cars with the device or they can bring their car in to the dealer to have it outfitted with the $499 hot spot. Chrysler will not install the hot spots directly at the factory.
In addition to the $499 fee is a $35 to $50 installation fee, a $35 activation fee and a $29 monthly subscription fee for the EVDO service. Autonet Mobile already sells a portable version of the car hot spot to Avis Rent A Car that can be rented for $10.95/day.
Uconnect Web is hardwired to the car’s electrical system and the device is usually mounted in the trunk. An antenna is also mounted on the vehicle. It delivers download speeds from 400kbps to 800kbps with upload speeds averaging 400kbps. The Wi-Fi service operates within 100 feet of the car and the Wi-Fi connection is secured with WEP and other encryptions. The system can be converted to work on all cellular and WiMAX networks.
Last year Ford and Microsoft teamed up to offer Sync, an in-vehicle communications and entertainment system that lets drivers activate music using voice commands and have their text messages read aloud via text-to-speech technology. Ford has said it estimates that there will be one million Sync-equipped vehicles on the road by 2009.
Autonet also plans to offer a car hot spot for new cars next year through a partnership with GM’s Delphi. OnStar’s navigation and emergency roadside service costs between $17 and $70 per month.
When a driver presses the Red OnStar Emergency button or Blue OnStar button, current vehicle data and the user’s GPS location are immediately gathered, then sent to OnStar. OnStar Emergency calls are routed to the OnStar Center with highest priority.
In related news, the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority now offers Internet access on 20 buses. Transit officials hope the service will make an impact with “choice riders;” passengers who have the option of driving their car or riding the bus.
The service costs $15,000 per bus to set up and about $50 per month per bus to run. Metro worked out a deal with AT&T where they sell ad space on 50 buses for $16,250 a month. This money then goes directly back to paying for the Internet service. Once the service pays for itself, the money will go to set up Wi-Fi on other routes.
The service is free – neither passengers nor taxpayers are paying for it. But a WiMax-enabled WiFi hotspot should only cost about $500 — ad revenue in a few months might put it in the black. Laptops are unwieldy on a bus, but iPhones make sense. Target smartphones. Music and news. On the go.
The $117.3 million commuter rail system will begin running in October or November, connecting the Beaverton Transit Center, on the West side of Portland with five commuter rail stations along the line in Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Wilsonville.
Autoweek has an interesting feature story, Under the Hood with Big Brother that details the perils of black box systems in cars, GPS guidance systems like OnStar and roadway wireless systems like the Intelligent Transportation System.
Related DailyWireless stories on transit connectivity include; Portland Commuter Rail Readies Wi-Fi, Chrysler Rolls Out U-connect , Ford Sync, Mobile Livecasting, Google Transit Maps + WiFi, Chrysler: Wi-Fi Car This Year, The Connected Bus, Hotspot for Bedouins, Chrysler Getting WiMAXed, Verizon Traffic Mapping , PePWave Mobility: Connectivity for Vehicles, Civic Booster, Broadband Wireless Modems, Kyocera KR2 Mobile Router, Gadgets That Listen, Analog Cellular to Shut Down, Microsoft Vrs OnStar and 3-D Traffic/Weather Maps.