Wednesday, August 13, 2008

In-car wireless Internet to become a reality with Chrysler

An EV-DO-enabled hotspot will be installed as an option in 2009 models of Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge vehicles, as well as some earlier models, the auto maker announced yesterday.

Chrysler itself will not install the Mopar-produced devices direct from the factory, instead it would be made available at the dealership. The new router will be mounted in the trunk much like CD changers and satellite radio receivers already are, and hardwired into the car's electrical system. Users will be able to use Wi-Fi at distances from the car comparable to current home-based wireless routers.

The cost of the device is expected to be $499, and it would be available beginning August 25. Installation of the device should be approximately $35 to $50. In addition, there will be a $35 activation fee and a $29 monthly fee for service. As with a standard EV-DO data connection, download rates should fall between 400 to 600 Kbps on average.

The devices will be supplied to the car dealers from Autonet Mobile, which already has been providing a similar service in rental cars from Avis. There, renters can use the service for $10.95 per day. The Internet service, called "uconnect web," will be maintained by Autonet, and includes functionality that would actually redistribute lost packets so that users would never lose connections.

This is believed to be the first Internet service deal with an automobile manufacturer. Autonet Mobile CEO Sterling Pratz said that youth is the primary demand for in-car Internet -- especially with the continuing rise of chat and instant messaging.

Another in-car service offering is planned for next year through a partnership with electronics manufacturer Delphi, although specifics have not been given.

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