Connected cars might not have to be newly manufactured vehicles, with a major carrier now launching a device that brings connectivity to nearly any vehicle.
T-Mobile plans to launch a new device and service later this month that will bring Wi-Fi and remote monitoring capabilities to many vehicles already on the road today.
SyncUP Drive is a dongle that plugs into the on-board diagnostics port, which is standard on vehicles manufactured after 1996, and will add 4G LTE data and remote monitoring and vehicle diagnostics capabilities, according to T-Mobile.
“We’re making it radically simple for customers to connect their cars with a complete, all-in-one package – and the best part is that we’re making it totally free at launch,” said T-Mobile CEO, John Legere.
The network claims the in-car connectivity will cost almost a quarter less than its competitors’ offerings over the course of two years.
The device and concept appear to be similar to other offerings from carriers and third-party device manufacturers alike.
Verizon offers a similar product, but it doesn’t offer in-vehicle 4G LTE data. AT&T has been going a different route with partnering directly with car manufacturers to integrate 4G LTE data connectivity into new vehicles.
Other non-network brands have utilized these types of dongles to connect consumers’ cars with their services, however.
For example, at least one car insurance company has offered safe-driver discounts to consumers who drive within certain parameters for safe driving. The driver plugs the insurer’s device into their vehicle and after a certain period of ‘safe driving,’ the discount is applied to the drivers’ bill. The driving diagnostics data is sent directly from the vehicle to the insurer.
In addition to creating an in-vehicle Wi-Fi hotspot, key features of SyncUP DRIVE include monitoring driving behavior, GPS vehicle tracking and vehicle maintenance reminders and remote diagnostics.