Audi Connect internet services
Audi Connect internet servicesEnlarge Photo
Luxury brand announces its technological sophistication by partnering with AT&T's now-downwardly-mobile 'cheap brand.'
For those of us who have already been reading seemingly endless reports and speculation about the proposed merging of operations of two major U.S. cellular providers, it was hard not to see Audi's apparently-only-ill-timed release as that.
Audi gave the official nod to T-Mobile as its official U.S. service provider for its Audi Connect navigation and infotainment system—the day after it was announced that cellular provider AT&T had offered to buy T-Mobile from Deutsche Telekom for $39 billion.The automaker says that it chose T-Mobile for its reliable network, leadership in telematics, and strong record for customer satisfaction. Of course, that latter assurance now...well...needs some new assurance.
Last month, Audi revealed that the Internet connection the A8 gets uses that new LTE data connectivity standard, which allows higher data-transfer speeds of up to 100 Mbits per second—more than six times faster than standard 3G. The speed could in theory be used to stream video to the vehicle.
While most analysis so far has concluded that the deal can only be a bad thing for consumers, the AT&T-and-T-Mobile deal might actually be a good thing for high-speed data applications like this—if early speculation proves correct. As mentioned by the Dallas Morning News, AT&T plans to repurpose all of T-Mobile's existing 3G frequencies for 4G LTE—which could give AT&T subscribers a big boost in data speed and reliability, to the disappointment of T-Mobile customers who recently purchased smartphones. But with SIM cards that could easily be swapped out for AT&T, that could be a good deal in the end for Audi.
2011 Audi A7Enlarge Photo
With Audi Connect's roll-out, on the all-new 2012 Audi A7, the system will include Google Earth, Google Local Search, and Sirius Traffic Information with Google Earth imagery. Users can get real-time news, weather, and fuel prices in addition to the traffic info, and the system can be turned into a Wi-Fi hotspot.
The system uses a 'ruggedized,' enhanced SIM card that inserts into the MMI Navigation Plus system. SIM cards come with the vehicle and they can easily be activated at any time during or after a six-month free trial.Audi Connect will be available in the 2012 A7 this year, along with the 2012 Audi A8 this summer, as well as the 2012 Audi A6 and Q7 models. The upcoming Q5 Hybrid and other future models will also have Audi Connect, says the brand.
The press release from Audi, released more than a day after the communications-company news broke, didn't acknowledge the deal.