Audi will outfit all 2016 cars with AT&T's LTE service

BARCELONA, Spain--Audi of America will equip all its 2016 vehicles with AT&T's (NYSE:T) LTE service. The deal is an expansion of AT&T's previous arrangement with Audi in which the operator provided LTE connectivity to all Audi A3 cars released in 2014. AT&T will offer Audi drivers the option of adding their car to their Mobile Share data plan for the $10 per month access fee.

AT&T is also adding a new capability to its AT&T Drive connected car platform that will allow the car to connect to the company's Digital Life home security and automation platform. This means that car makers will be able to embed the Digital Life feature into cars so drivers can control their home from their car dashboard.

AT&T has been a leader in the connected car space, racking up numerous deals with car makers such as Nissan (for its Leaf electric car), BMW, Ford Motor Co., General Motors (for its OnStar service), Tesla, Volvo and GM's operations in Europe. One key to AT&T's ability to attract carmakers has been its development of a global GSM-based SIM card that can be programmed remotely so it switches to different networks in different geographic locations. The global SIM can be used in cars and also to track shipments around the globe.

In an interview with FierceWireless, Chris Penrose, SVP of Internet of Things Solutions, said that the global SIM is playing an integral role in many industrial solutions as well. For example, AT&T works with a fleet tracking company called CargoView that embeds AT&T's SIM in its cargo. That SIM can be turned off remotely when the cargo is on an airplane in order to meet FAA guidelines, then can be turned on again when it meets its destination.

The global SIM is also being used in AT&T's deal with heavy equipment maker Sany America to help it manage and protect its heavy equipment assets remotely.

Interestingly, Penrose said he believes that the next big area for Internet of Things will be the healthcare industry, which has been hampered by FDA guidelines, which often take a long time for approval.

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