Carmaker Audi will soon start selling the world's first car with built-in LTE connectivity in Europe, but will not bring the LTE connected car experience to the U.S. market until sometime next spring.
Audi is bringing LTE to its A3 line.
The German automaker said that the S3 Sportback will be the first to get LTE, but that LTE connectivity will reach all other variants in its premium compact A3 line in November. The S3 Sportback uses a module from Gemalto for the connectivity.
LTE is the latest addition to Audi's Connect service, which offers a range of infotainment options. Audi Connect service lets users access real-time news, weather and fuel prices. In addition, it lets drivers connect to Google Earth and Google Voice. The service also provides Wi-Fi connectivity throughout the vehicle for up to eight devices. Facebook and Twitter have also supported a text-to-speech function and a status function with prepared text modules for the system. Customers must pay extra for the service.
European customers can use essentially any LTE operator for the service by inserting a SIM card into the dashboard, but U.S customers will most likely be getting connectivity from one carrier, according to GigaOM.
U.S. customers will get an LTE option on the A3 Sedan next spring and a three-door plug-in hybrid version of the S3 Sportback is also scheduled for U.S. release in 2015. Audi spokesman Brad Stertz told GigaOM the company is still negotiating with U.S. operators now and will make an announcement about a partnership sometime in the future.
T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) could have an inside track on the deal. In April the company announced a new data plan specifically for Audi drivers that use the company's Connect service. The plan, which is offered to new and existing owners of cars equipped with Audi Connect, allows owners 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. T-Mobile expects to cover 200 million POPs with LTE before the end of the year.
The connected car market is continuing to evolve. In February, General Motors announced it will replace Verizon Wireless' (NYSE:VZ) service with AT&T Mobility's (NYSE:T) service in its OnStar offering beginning in 2014. At that time, GM will incorporate LTE into most of its vehicles.
- see this release
- see this GigaOM article
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Correction, Aug. 20, 2013: This article incorrectly stated which company is supplying the LTE module for the Audi A3 line. It is Gemalto, not Sierra Wireless.