Wednesday, March 23, 2011

T-Mobile tapped for Audi Connect service, LTE not coming until 2015

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2012 Audi A7
2012 Audi A7 - Click above for high-res image gallery

Audi has announced that T-Mobile will supply wireless data for its growing line of net-connected vehicles, allowing drivers to access a range of Audi Connect services on the go. That's the good news. And there's a bit more.

The service will debut on the 2012 Audi A7 (with integration for the 2012 A8, A6, Q7 and Q5 Hybrid coming later) and allow drivers to access Google Local Search and Sirius Traffic data, which combined with voice-controlled Google Earth integration will provide drivers with topographical and satellite imagery - the first of its kind in the industry.

Other services include real-time news, weather data and fuel prices, and if your passengers have a WiFi-capable device, Audi Connect will turn the vehicle into a secure, rolling hotspot. All of this will be accessed directly through Audi's MMI control system, with a T-Mobile sim card provided by the dealer, plugged into the dash and owners given a six-month trial period for the service. After that, you'll have to sign up for a monthly plan, which Audi and T-Mobile have yet to announce pricing for. So... all good stuff. Now for the bad news.

Markus Putze, VW/Audi's Senior Engineer on the program, told Autoblog from the CTIA Wireless show that Audi's much-hyped implementation of 4G LTE connectivity won't be coming anytime soon. "There are no automotive grade [LTE] modules available at this time," says Putze, and because of that, integration of high-speed wireless broadband into Audi's lineup isn't due to arrive until 2015. At the earliest.

And before the naysayers jump in and say T-Mobile already offers 4G, we'll stop you right there. According to the definition provided by the International Telecommunication Union, T-Mobile's HSPA+ system doesn't provide the speeds necessary to be defined as 4G - that's at least 100 Mbps down and T-Mobile's "4G" service only clocks in at 12 Mbps.

However, the agreement between Audi and T-Mobile is set for a minimum of eight years - plenty of time for the carrier to roll out its own real 4G LTE network - and if the deal with AT&T goes through (at least nine months to a year away), that could escalate the development of the service.

Gallery: Audi A7

Continue reading T-Mobile tapped for Audi Connect service, LTE not coming until 2015

T-Mobile tapped for Audi Connect service, LTE not coming until 2015 originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 22 Mar 2011 18:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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