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2012 Audi A7 – Click above for high-res image gallery

Audi has announced that T-Mobile will supply wireless data for its growing line of net-connected vehicles, allowing drivers to access a range of Audi Connect services on the go. That's the good news. And there's a bit more.

The service will debut on the 2012 Audi A7 (with integration for the 2012 A8, A6, Q7 and Q5 Hybrid coming later) and allow drivers to access Google Local Search and Sirius Traffic data, which combined with voice-controlled Google Earth integration will provide drivers with topographical and satellite imagery – the first of its kind in the industry.

Other services include real-time news, weather data and fuel prices, and if your passengers have a WiFi-capable device, Audi Connect will turn the vehicle into a secure, rolling hotspot. All of this will be accessed directly through Audi's MMI control system, with a T-Mobile sim card provided by the dealer, plugged into the dash and owners given a six-month trial period for the service. After that, you'll have to sign up for a monthly plan, which Audi and T-Mobile have yet to announce pricing for. So... all good stuff. Now for the bad news.

Markus Putze, VW/Audi's Senior Engineer on the program, told Autoblog from the CTIA Wireless show that Audi's much-hyped implementation of 4G LTE connectivity won't be coming anytime soon. "There are no automotive grade [LTE] modules available at this time," says Putze, and because of that, integration of high-speed wireless broadband into Audi's lineup isn't due to arrive until 2015. At the earliest.

And before the naysayers jump in and say T-Mobile already offers 4G, we'll stop you right there. According to the definition provided by the International Telecommunication Union, T-Mobile's HSPA+ system doesn't provide the speeds necessary to be defined as 4G – that's at least 100 Mbps down and T-Mobile's "4G" service only clocks in at 12 Mbps.

However, the agreement between Audi and T-Mobile is set for a minimum of eight years – plenty of time for the carrier to roll out its own real 4G LTE network – and if the deal with AT&T goes through (at least nine months to a year away), that could escalate the development of the service.

Show full PR text
Audi Names T-Mobile as the Wireless Carrier for Advanced Audi Connect Systems in the U.S.

Customers to Tap Voice-activated Google Earth™, Obtain Real-time Traffic, Fuel Price and Weather Information, and Access Mobile Wi-Fi HotSpot

Audi today announced that T-Mobile USA, Inc. will serve as the U.S. wireless carrier for its Audi Connect systems in the company's newest Audi luxury vehicle lines. Available with the arrival of the 2012 Audi A7 in April, the Audi Connect services include voice-activated Google Earth™, Google™ Local Search, and Sirius Traffic™ information combined with Google Earth™ imagery. In addition, Audi Connect allows users to obtain real-time news, weather, and fuel prices from other providers. Audi Connect is also able to turn the vehicle into a secure mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, allowing vehicle passengers to retrieve information on the Internet conveniently and securely.

Audi Connect services are enabled with an enhanced, ruggedized T-Mobile® SIM card connected to T-Mobile's robust network inserted into the advanced Audi MMI® Navigation Plus system. To facilitate easy activation, T-Mobile SIM cards will be included with the vehicle, allowing customers to simply sign up for a service plan at the time of vehicle sale or at any time during or after the six-month complimentary trial period.

Audi turned to T-Mobile as the wireless provider because of its reliable, nationwide network, leadership in the automotive telematics space, and strong customer satisfaction record.

"The launch of Audi Connect is part of a foundational strategy to help Audi lead with first-to-market, cutting-edge connected services," said Johan de Nysschen, President, Audi of America. "We're looking forward to a productivel relationship with T-Mobile USA as we give motorists and passengers the ability to access the most current information and enhance their enjoyment of their Audi vehicle."

"From our robust, nationwide network to our cutting-edge SIM technology, T-Mobile innovates so that customers can connect and access information from nearly anywhere," said John Horn, National Director of M2M at T-Mobile USA. "The Audi Connect service is a great example of how the vehicle ownership experience can be enhanced with wireless connectivity and we're thrilled to be a part of it."

For more details on the Audi Connect service, please visit audiusanews.com and search for "Audi Connect."

In addition to the 2012 Audi A7, Audi Connect will appear this summer in the 2012 Audi A8 line, the 2012 Audi A6 and the 2012 Audi Q7. Future Audi models, such as the Audi Q5 Hybrid, will also feature Audi Connect.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wrong, Autoblog. T-Mobile's HSPA+ network is 4G according to the ITU:

      IMT-Advanced is considered as “4G”, although it is recognized that this term, while undefined, may also be applied to the forerunners of these technologies, LTE and WiMax, and to other evolved 3G technologies providing a substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities with respect to the initial third generation systems now deployed.

        • 4 Years Ago
        I read it that the ITU recognizes IMT-Advanced as 4G. The recognizes that the term "4G" may be applied to other technologies that are significantly advanced from the initial 3G offerings, but that does not necessarily make them 4G. I guess we'll need to wait for the ITU-R in 2012 to see what's for real.

        And then, Autoblog would still be wrong, because the LTE being deployed in the US (by T-Mobile US, AT&T Mobility and Verizon) is STILL not 4G. Once LTE is rolled out successfully, the next step would be LTE Advanced (IMT-Advanced), and that would meet the ITU requirements for 4G.

        So sure, T-Mobile calls HSPA+ 4G, AT&T occasionally calls HSPA+ 4G, but neither of them are really 4G. Usually 3.5G is acceptable as EDGE was 2.5G.

        I believe these statements reflect the current understanding of most people in the industry because the ITU still hasn't issued a definitive ruling.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The fact that this won't get LTE is really going to be an issue. I just got an HTC Thunderbolt on Verizon's LTE network, and this is blazing fast. A total game changer. You want mobile broadband, this is it. I'm seeing sustained download speeds of almost 20 Mbps, and upload speeds up to 30 Mbps. That's faster than my already speedy Fios internet service!

        Crippling this service with 3G (even though LTE isn't 'technically' 4G) makes sad panda sad.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "The fact that this won't get LTE is really going to be an issue."

        Probably not. As the article states, in-car LTE hardware modules aren't available - not just to Audi but to anyone, so Audi is not at a competitive disadvantage. Customers choose from available options and for now LTE in-car isn't an option.

        Audi's biggest "competition" is from your phone itself. Why would someone spend $2,000 up front and $XX per month on a bandwidth service plan when their phone already offers navigation (with traffic updates) and wi-fi hotspot capability (and more), is portable, gets regular application updates and can be completely replaced every couple of years for a few hundred bucks or less? It's a tough sell.
      • 4 Years Ago
      AT&T is only buying the US branch of T-mobile, though.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Me = didn't read the headline of the press release.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Makes no sense. By the time they get around to this and get LTE in the car it will be old technology. My cell phone has way better (and free) gps than my european luxury car. There's no way a carmaker will keep up with the gadget industry so they should focus on integrating the thech we already carry.

      Forget hard-mounting comm tech in the car at all. Make the in-car setup a big screen of whatever my phone is doing via a bluetooth connection. Then give me an iphone / android / wp7 / etc. app that customizes what the steering wheel and dash buttons do.

      Oh..and pay me royalties please for this clearly obvious idea that you didn't think of. Thanks!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Maybe Audi should have bought T-Mobile for 39 Billion.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't ATT already signaled that they will be turning off T-Mobile's 3G towers, making this feature obsolete out of the box?
        • 4 Years Ago
        The T-Mobile towers will be up for some time. Even if the merger goes through in 12 months AT&T will have millions of T-Mobile subscribers with T-Mobile handsets. Even if they wanted to sunset the T-Mobile towers it will take years and I suspect that the DOJ will mandate that the existing T-Mobile network be up for 5+ years to prevent AT&T from making the customers move and be forced to buy new handsets.

        Lastly, one of the reasons AT&T is buying T-Mobile is they want T-Mobile's wireless spectrum. So the service on the Audi's will be available for some time.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If the piss poor service I got with T Mobile on my last company phone is any indication of what these people are in for, I suggest they skip that particular option.

      I didn't even know it was possible for a cell phone carrier to give away a number it did not actually own, but sure enough anytime someone outside T Mobile's network called me someone named Bert picked up the phone.

      What a joke.
      • 4 Years Ago
      You guys heard that AT&T is buying Tmobile right? I'll be interested to see if this is retracted/changed
        • 4 Years Ago
        It won't be. When Audi found out about the purchase on Sunday (if not earlier) and had a major issue with it, Audi would not have put out this press release today.

        T-Mobile will continue to function as an independent entity for at least twelve months. After the purchase closes, the contractual terms in the Audi contract will have to be honored during the term of the contract.

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