AT&T’s network drives Chevrolet’s new unlimited LTE data offering

Guess who’s next to join the unlimited plan fray—and it’s not a wireless carrier, per se.

Chevrolet said this week that Chevy owners can get unlimited prepaid 4G data, including an OnStar WiFi hotspot, for $20 a month, starting March 3. AT&T is the network provider enabling the service.

To hear the car company tell it, Chevrolet owners and their passengers have an insatiable demand for data. Last year alone, Chevrolet customers used nearly 200% more OnStar 4G LTE data in their vehicles compared to 2015. In the second half of 2016, Chevy owners used almost as much data as they had the previous 24 months since OnStar 4G LTE launched.

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To put that kind of data usage in perspective, the car company said Chevrolet owners and their passengers streamed the equivalent of more than 17.5 million hours of video in 2016—presumably not viewed by the driver behind the wheel.

“We have contractors bidding jobs in their Silverados, families streaming movies in their Suburbans and Malibus and everyone tapping into the cloud for music,” said Alan Batey, president of GM North America and global head of Chevrolet, in a statement. “With the most affordable unlimited 4G LTE data plan in the auto industry, the widest availability of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and new connected services like OnStar AtYourService, our momentum can only grow.”

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AT&T snagged the OnStar contract from longtime provider Verizon back in 2013 and has been supplying the LTE service ever since. With the 4G LTE connection enabled by AT&T, the OnStar Basic Plan comes standard on all new Chevrolet retail models. The Basic Plan includes select remote vehicle services and the OnStar AtYourService marketplace via the myChevrolet mobile app among other features.

“We’re pleased to deliver this special unlimited data plan to Chevy owners,” said Chris Penrose, president, IoT Solutions, AT&T, in a news release. “Accessing the internet through AT&T’s 4G LTE Wi-Fi, passengers now can access all of their content and enjoy endless entertainment on the go.”

This week at Mobile World Congress 2017, Ford also announced a partnership with Vodafone to bring 4G LTE connectivity to vehicles in Europe via the new FordPass Connect built-in modem and Wi‑Fi hotspot capability. Incorporating an external aerial, the Wi-Fi hotspot enables up to 10 devices to connect to the network at once.

Vodafone and Ford have worked together for over a decade. “Now we are addressing drivers’ and passengers’ expectations of staying connected to the rest of their digital world while in their vehicles,” said Ivo Rook, director of the Internet of Things at Vodafone, in a prepared statement. “The range of services that a robust, secure connection can bring to the consumer is growing every day, from information on the health of your car and alerts on traffic conditions to passengers streaming movies to enjoy on long journeys. Ford and Vodafone are creating more opportunities for customers to live a smarter and more connected life.”

The company will use Vodafone’s global SIM and Internet of Things platform to bring enhanced safety, security, diagnostic and infotainment services to Ford vehicles across Europe, and ensure compliance with strict new EU regulations for emergency services.