AT&T, General Motors extending OnStar into Europe

LAS VEGAS--AT&T (NYSE: T) and General Motors are expanding their relationship beyond North America and into Europe during the second half of 2015 as they partner to bring GM's OnStar service to Europe in select countries.

Mary Chan, president, global connected consumer at General Motors, made the announcement during a keynote panel here at CTIA's Super Mobility Week conference

AT&T's foray into Europe is clearly key to last month's merging of its mobility and business solutions divisions into a single unit now headed by Ralph de la Vega, who was previously AT&T Mobility's CEO. De la Vega affirmed that changes reflect AT&T's desire to deliver mobility and business solutions worldwide.

De la Vega, who moderated the panel, hinted at the broadened relationship between AT&T and GM before Chan made her announcement, saying that AT&T intends to expand its connected car initiatives globally. He said noted GM has the most LTE-equipped vehicles on the market worldwide.

Chan and de la Vega did not share details regarding their planned European service. AT&T has long acknowledged it has European ambitions but currently it is not a cellular provider in the region.

GM unveiled OnStar LTE service for a handful of models this past July, and Chan said that will be extended to more than 30 models by year's end.

According to Chan, 96 to 98 percent of buyers of new GM cars in North America who are given three months of AT&T-enabled connected car service for free are agreeing to the connected services terms and conditions and using their trial. GM has not disclosed any post-trial numbers. (New car buyers are also given six months of free OnStar roadside assistance service.)

Separately, AT&T, which earlier this year announced a relationship with Audi starting with the launch of the A3 sedan, said it will soon offer connectivity to more Audi customers in the 2015 Audi Q3. De la Vega noted that consumer surveys have shown that people want to connect their car to their preferred carrier's mobile share rate plan and the deal with Audi will enable customers to add connectivity-equipped Audi vehicles to their AT&T Mobile Share plan.

"The cost for connecting these Audi models to a Mobile Share Value plan is the same as a tablet--an additional $10 for the access charge per month," AT&T said. The company noted AT&T customers will still be able to choose a stand-alone data plan or the Mobile Share option.

AT&T Mobility said in May it would allow customers with an LTE-capable vehicle from GM  to add the car as another device to their Mobile Share Value shared data plan for $10 per month, the same price as a tablet.

AT&T and Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) also released a global study on connected car buyers. Ericsson CMO Arun Bhikshesvaran said 50 percent of survey respondents worldwide said they would switch brands in order get mobile connectivity in a new vehicle. Further, 72 percent of drivers would delay a car purchase by one year to buy a car with connected car services from their preferred brand. In the United States, 67 percent of drivers indicated they would probably or definitely buy connectivity or Wi-Fi service if available in their car.

Related Articles:
AT&T to license Digital Life home automation tech to Telefónica in Europe
Lurie named CEO of AT&T Mobility, de la Vega to oversee mobile and enterprise
AT&T envisions car-makers sponsoring the data for in-vehicle connectivity
AT&T's Lurie: Adding your car to a Mobile Share plan would make 'good sense'
The connected car is just another device
AT&T to charge $10/month for LTE-equipped GM vehicles on shared data plans
Audi's AT&T-powered in-car LTE service starts at $99 for 6 months, 5 GB

Article updated Sept. 10, 2014, to clarify Chan's comments regarding GM customers agreeing to the connected services terms and conditions.

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