AT&T's wireless service will connect Tesla's fleet and Audi A3 cars, T-Mobile MIA

LAS VEGAS--Audi AG is teaming with AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) to outfit its A3 lines of cars with LTE connectivity, giving the operator another big win in the connected car space. AT&T won Audi's LTE business despite the fact that the car-maker had been working closely with T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) to power Audi's Connect service for the past few years.

Separately, AT&T also announced it scored a new, multi-year exclusive agreement to "enable current and future Tesla vehicles in North America with high speed wireless connectivity."

"Tesla's goal has always been to catalyze the market for electric vehicles for all consumers while providing an exceptional driving experience," said Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO of Tesla. "AT&T's advanced and reliable wireless connectivity will help Tesla continue to deliver a cutting-edge ownership experience."

AT&T's Tesla and Audi announcements are just two of several the company made in the connected car space. AT&T also announced it is teaming with Ericsson, Amdocs, Jasper Wireless, Synchronoss and others to create AT&T Drive, a mobile platform for developing LTE connected car services.  In addition, the company and its partners are launching a 5,000-square foot facility to fine-tune those apps and services. (Click here for more on this story.)

As for AT&T's Audi deal, Audi AG Chairman Rupert Stadler announced the partnership along with AT&T Mobility CEO and President Ralph de la Vega at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show opening keynote here. Stadler also announced Nvidia and Qualcomm will be partners in powering the service.

Audi said it was the first car-maker to announce integrated LTE services in its cars. However, General Motors announced last February that it was planning to outfit the majority of its cars with LTE by 2015 and yesterday at a media event here at CES, GM revealed several car models that it will begin selling with LTE connectivity as early as this summer.

Audi may be differentiating its LTE-enabled cars from the competition because of the company's Connect service. That service allows cars equipped with Audi Connect to access real-time news and weather as well as connect to such services as Google Voice and Google Earth. The service also provides Wi-Fi connectivity in the vehicle for up to eight devices.

AT&T's win with Audi is notable because T-Mobile US has long been the 3G wireless data provider for Audi. In fact, just last April T-Mobile announced a new data plan for cars equipped with Audi Connect that allows drivers to pay $450 for data services for 30 months, which equals $15 per month, or pay $30 per month if they select the month-to-month option.

This is also the second time that AT&T has lured a major connected car deal away from another operator. Last February AT&T announced it was outfitting all General Motor's cars with LTE for the company's popular OnStar service, which had long been powered by Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ).

Audi has been aggressive in its connected car efforts. The company was the first to offer in-vehicle Wi-Fi connectivity when it launched Audi Connect in 2011. Audi plans to have 1 million connected Audi vehicles worldwide by 2015.

For more:
- see the Verge's live blog of the event
- see this Ericsson release
- see this Tesla release

Related articles:
Audi's LTE-connected car coming to the U.S. next spring
T-Mobile debuts data plan specifically for Audi connected cars
GM's Chan: VoLTE to be a primary component of the connected car
AT&T's LTE service to replace Verizon in GM's OnStar

Article updated Jan. 7 with additional information on Tesla and Ericsson.

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