• Dec 21st 2009 at 1:29PM
  • 28
The SYNC system offered by Ford in most of its models just got a lot more interesting. In addition to giving vehicle owners super simple connectivity with virtually any phone or music player and the best voice recognition in the biz, the next generation of SYNC will add mobile internet compatibility to its USB ports. What does this mean? It means that if you've got one of those fancy 3G modems for your laptop, you can plug it into the USB port of your SYNC-equipped Ford and voilà! Your entire vehicle is a WiFi hotspot. Imagine the effect of adding easy in-car WiFi to a family of five's cross-country trip in a Ford Flex and you get the idea.
In-car WiFi has been around for a couple of years already, but all instances have required extra dealer-installed hardware (a receiver and router, specifically) and an additional monthly fee. General Motors announced just last week that it's adding optional in-car WiFi to seven Chevy models, but like most systems, you'll have to pay $500 up front ($199 after mail-in rebate through December 31st) for the hardware and $29/month for the service. With a simple software upgrade of SYNC next year, Ford customers will be able to use the 3G modem they may already have and get the same effect, without having to pay extra for new equipment and, most importantly, another monthly fee for internet. It's also an easy way for Ford to get WiFi in the car for SYNC's upcoming mobile apps.

SYNC was already a big reason for infotainment-obsessed car shoppers to consider a Ford, but at least when it comes to browsing the internet in your car, SYNC 2.0 with in-car WiFi just leap frogged the entire auto industry. Not only is the technology impressive, but this new feature actually saves the customer money rather than asking for more. Ford's official word on the matter, plus a video of SYNC 2.0 broadcasting its pirate signal, can be found after the jump.

[Source: Ford]




  • Next-generation SYNC® system to incorporate in-car WiFi system powered by customer's USB mobile broadband modem, turning entire car into hot spot
  • New capability will be standard on select SYNC-equipped vehicles with no additional hardware or subscriptions required beyond the user-supplied mobile broadband modem
  • Standard WiFi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) security protocols will be in force, and only owner-permitted devices will be able to access the network, helping ensure secure, robust connectivity for in-car users

DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 21, 2009 – Ford Motor Company will turn vehicles into rolling WiFi hot spots when it introduces the second generation of its popular SYNC® in-car connectivity system next year.

Inserting an owner's compatible USB mobile broadband modem – sometimes called an "air card" – into SYNC's USB port will produce a secure wireless connection that will be broadcast throughout the vehicle, allowing passengers with WiFi-enabled mobile devices to access the Internet anywhere the broadband modem receives connectivity.

"While you're driving to grandma's house, your spouse can be finishing the holiday shopping and the kids can be chatting with friends and updating their Facebook profiles," said Mark Fields, Ford president of The Americas. "And you're not paying for yet another mobile subscription or piece of hardware because Ford will let you use technology you already have."

Studies by the Consumer Electronics Association show that as many as 77 million adults make up the so-called technology enthusiast drivers population, more than half of whom express the desire for a connected communications and information system in their vehicles. Even among the general population, more than one third of Americans would be interested in the ability to check email and access Web sites in their vehicles.

Upgradeable and secure
The USB port provided by SYNC lets owners leverage a variety of devices, including the mobile broadband modem. And through simple software updates, SYNC can be adapted to connect with the latest devices.

"The speeds with which technology is evolving, particularly on the wireless front, makes obsolescence a real problem," said Doug VanDagens, director of Ford's Connected Services Solutions Organization. "We've solved that problem by making SYNC work with just about any technology you plug into it. By leveraging a user's existing hardware, which can be upgraded independent of SYNC, we've helped ensure 'forward compatibility' with whatever connectivity technology comes next."

The SYNC WiFi capability is a simple solution for bringing internet into the vehicle, versus competitive systems on the market. Being factory-installed, the hardware is seamlessly integrated into the vehicle, whereas competitor's systems are dealer-installed and require a bulky bolt-in receiver and transmitter that take up cabin space. Also, competitive systems cost approximately $500 for equipment and installation, not to mention the monthly subscription fee.

"Using SYNC with existing mobile devices helps Ford provide the most value, the most flexibility and the most convenience for owners," said Fields. "Constant connectivity is becoming a routine part of our customers' lives, and we're making existing technology more accessible without adding costs: That's the kind of value Ford drivers have learned to expect."

Using the SYNC WiFi system, a signal will be broadcast throughout the vehicle. Default security is set to WiFi Protected Access 2 (WPA2), requiring users to enter a randomly chosen password to connect to the Internet. When SYNC sees a new WiFi device for the first time, the driver must specifically allow that device to connect, preventing unauthorized users from "piggybacking" on the SYNC-provided signal.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Dipa is very very nice girl.

      Call this girl: 01712-424487
      • 5 Years Ago
      Odd that Ford's promo video features Apple MacBooks?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah that is funny, considering it's MS SYNC. However, MS is usually way more open about embracing and showing other companies' devices on the Windows platform than Apple. Though in this case, it doesn't really matter as it's just a wi-fi signal.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Or you could just get a travel router for $200 or less and not have to bother with Sync.
      high speed Internet
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm not really much of a car fanatic, but knowing they have a feature like this, making me able to connect to the Internet even when I'm driving around, or when I'm with my kids -- boy do I want to have a car like this! Karina @ www.highspeed-internet.com
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow, this is seriously badass!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm guessing the software upgrade to do this won't be free.

      I do think it's cool that if you are already paying for mobile internet service you don't have to pay any extra to make this work. But is that really a lot of people?

      Also, you do realize that both Windows Vista/7 and Mac OS X (and probably linux too) already have the capability to share their internet connection over WiFi, so if you already have one of those internet devices and a laptop you plug it into, you don't even need this.
        • 5 Years Ago
        There's no free upgrade. You can't add WiFi capability in software.

        The service costs money too, unless you are already paying.

        You can get the GM thing for $200 right now. Which is peanuts compared to how much it'll cost you just to run any of these systems for a year. The $30/month is just a jumping off point, with multiple data users, you'll be into the higher rates in no time.

        And for the record, I'm not a fan of the GM thing either. Just get a MiFi or whatever if you want this or just use your laptop with connection sharing turned on.
        • 5 Years Ago
        of course, now, your laptop won't have to expend energy powering the USB modem (that duty is relegated to your car). And honestly, the ease of connection sharing in Windows 7 notwithstanding, if you have two or more laptops, it's still easier to just plug the modem into your car and have a WiFi spot that works all ready to go.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Wow LSx, you're so right. Ford doesn't need to provide this free upgrade for Sync. It makes so much more sense that "General Motors announced just last week that it's adding optional in-car WiFi to seven Chevy models, but like most systems, you'll have to pay $500 up front ... for the hardware and $29/month for the service".
        Why oh why can't Ford be as smart as your precious GM?
        • 5 Years Ago
        the point is that you don't have to have a computer running to share the internet you can just plug in the usb device and the WHOLE car is wired. no laptop needed for the initial internet,
        • 5 Years Ago
        I take it back about the upgrade thing. There's no software upgrade available, so talking about the price makes no sense.

        If you have the new SYNC with WiFi built-in, this will work, and it'll work out of the box, no upgrade fee.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Not a Ford fan, but yeah, they pretty much kicked everyone's ass on this.
        • 5 Years Ago

        Fun when daddy drifts? Really? You've decided that a good time to do this is with your kids in your car? Might want to rethink this action.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well Bip-D-Bo, Ford is driving profitability by INCREASING their average transaction price, not by decreasing it...

        I guess we'll look for you on the used car lot next door... :)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Alright, good points on both accounts.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hey, I thought this whole thing with Ford's SYNC was this collaboration with Microsoft, so who chose to have a picture of 2 girls using Apple computers. Oh, Autoblog.
        • 5 Years Ago
        To be fair, only one is a Mac. So they're taking care of everyone (although you would think that the Apple would at least be covered up, but whatever).
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is HUGE news ...since no hardware is needed except your own 3G USB modem ...

      but my question is ..maybe im wrong ...but if you already had your 3G modem for your laptop ...and you brought your modem and laptop with you ...isnt your car a hotspot already? I mean, you already have the modem whats the difference if you plug it into your laptop or your car?

      the main advantage here that i see is once the SYNC app store is created and these SYNC apps can go online updating info ...
        • 5 Years Ago
        great question ...that would be AWESOME if there was a free tethering loophole ..as long as your carrier doesnt mind ..i have sprint and windows mobile ..dont think they allow tethering (without cost anyways) but on windows phones there is a program for it to use the cell signal and convert it to a wi-fi hotspot ...so that would work ..but that works anywhere i guess

        but then again ..if you can use ur phone as modem and tether it to your laptop ....why plug it into the car? just plug it into the laptop?
        • 5 Years Ago
        The interesting is that plugging your USB modem on the Sync port you can provide wi-fi for every device in the vehicle, that's the whole point.

        Once again, kudos to Ford.

        Note to self: should've bought Ford stocks when they where bellow US$1.5.
        • 5 Years Ago

        Some phones will tether via bluetooth or USB. I have an iPhone on the Rogers network (Canada) and with the right service plan you can tether a certain amount of data each month. I think a lot of Blackberries can do it too. It all comes down to your service provider.
        • 5 Years Ago
        no 3G modem here, but have a 3g phone. would it be possible to use that as the modem through tethering?
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Hamud ...sorry if i sound slow but i dont use a 3g modem on a laptop so im not exactly sure how it works..

        so if you connect the 3G modem to a laptop ...no other wi-fi devices can connect to it? my phone will not see the signal from the laptop is that what your saying? otherwise this new SYNC is nothing new if your laptop is in the car with a 3G modem already ...
      • 5 Years Ago
      That picture is the exact reason why Ford shouldn't do this...
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