Connected Driving: General Motors, AT&T to Equip Future Vehicles With 5G

AT&T and GM want to set the benchmark for automotive connectivity by bringing 5G connectivity to select model year 2024 vehicles.

Dallas-headquartered AT&T just took another step toward bringing 5G cellular connectivity to the world.

In a new announcement today, AT&T says it’s partnering with automotive giant General Motors to put 5G in millions of vehicles in the U.S. over the next decade. The two industry leaders will collaborate to “set the benchmark for automotive connectivity” and work toward an all-electric and autonomous future.

The fifth-generation cellular architecture will create a high performance 5G core network that delivers a new standard, according to the companies. They say it will usher in the next chapter of connected driving.

5G connectivity will be available in select GM models slated for 2024. When that happens, AT&T and GM said customers will get improved roadway-centric coverage, faster and higher-quality music and video downloads, more reliable over-the-air software updates, and quicker navigation, mapping, and voice services.

New network to be available for some vehicles 2019 and newer

Current Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac owners with 4G LTE-capable model year 2019 vehicles will be able to migrate to the new network infrastructure once it’s available. Through GM’s fifth generation network, the current 4G LTE-equipped model year 2019 and newer vehicles will get faster connectivity speeds and similar benefits to the future 5G-equipped vehicles.

“By connecting millions of GM vehicles to our nationwide 5G network, we’ll improve the customer experience for existing services while laying the groundwork for the next wave of innovation including autonomous driving,” Gregory Wieboldt, AT&T’s SVP of Global Business, Industry Solutions, said in a statement. “We now connect more vehicles than any other carrier and GM has played a critical role in our success.”

The 4G LTE and 5G network improvements are part of GM’s broader innovation and growth plan and over-the-air update strategy. It’s all about providing for a more convenient customer experience—with advanced features, robust software, and faster download speeds, more data will be accessible.

Enabling services from e-commerce to vehicle-to-electric grid

When the offering is launched, GM’s other partners will also be able to connect over AT&T’s 5G network. That will enable future mobility services like e-commerce, smart city, and vehicle-to-electric grid, the company said.

To support GM’s next-gen vehicle solutions, AT&T is working with Microsoft to combine the telecom company’s 5G network with the tech corporation’s scalable and secure cloud services.

An expanded partnership

The 5G rollout is part of GM and AT&T’s broader strategy to “launch the world’s largest fleet of 5G-enabled vehicles.” The collaboration is two years in the making, including test driving connected vehicles at GM’s test grounds in Milford, Michigan.

GM launched its 4G LTE in 2014, allowing car owners to use OnStar and Connected Services. Since then, the company says customers have used more than 171 million gigabytes of data across its brands, which equates to around 5.7 billion hours of streamed music or more than 716 million hours of streamed video.

AT&T and GM have also been working together since 2014, when they launched in-vehicle Wi-Fi hotpots. Last year, the companies added WarnerMedia’s library of streaming content as an additional connectivity feature in GM vehicles.

AT&T’s 5G network currently covers more than 250 million people across the country. Since 2016, the company says it has invested more than $110 billion in its wireless and wireline networks.

“Together with AT&T, we’ve brought unprecedented experiences to the daily commute, family road trips, and everything in between,” Santiago Chamorro, GM’s VP of Global Connected Services, said in a statement. “As an in-vehicle connectivity leader, this rollout demonstrates our commitment to growth through software-enabled services, reimagining every customer touchpoint by enabling faster connectivity speeds to power in-vehicle voice-enabled services, navigation, and apps that our customers have grown to love.”

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