Neither aftermarket or OEM car-based Wi-Fi systems are particularly new.
We had great results testing a system during the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance back in 2012, and the public's growing unease with being offline has ensured plenty more choices have cropped up in the years since.
AT&T is the latest to enter the market with its TE Mobley, which is available from today. The TE Mobley promises fast speeds—thanks to its Qualcomm MDM9215 processor—and a cord-free, plug-and-play setup, which sounds great.
But here's the rub: to work, the device needs to be plugged into the car's OBD II port.
According to the company, this allows Wi-Fi to be available whenever the car is on, which is certainly convenient. But in an era where mobile users are increasingly attuned to privacy concerns, the decision to utilize a direct line to the vehicle's computer—simply to provide power—seems at best, ill-planned and at worst, sinister.
Back in July, a pair of hackers demonstrated their ability to completely gain control of a 2014 Jeep Cherokee, and the stunt lead to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles [NYSE:FCAU] recalling 1.4 million vehicles.
Why the TE Mobley doesn't feature a conventional charging solution is unclear, but we expect some tech-savy folks to balk at the idea of connecting an Internet-enabled device to their vehicle's diagnostic equipment.
Buyers can purchase the unit outright for $100, or get it for free with a two-year contract. Those on the company's Mobile Share Value Plan can add Wi-Fi service for an additional $10, while DataConnect subscribers can opt to pay either $20 for 1 GB or $30 for 3 GB.