Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Chrysler offering in-car Internet August 25th

Chrysler will become the first US car maker to offer Internet capability August 25, when it begins selling a cellular/Wi-Fi hot spot, expected to be the first of many Internet offerings from car makers.

The Mopar hot spot will be sold and installed through Chrysler dealers. It is compatible with 2009 Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles as well as earlier models. Consumers can order new cars with the device or they can bring their car to the dealer to have it outfitted with the $499 hot spot, called Uconnect Web. Chrysler will not install the hot spots directly at the factory.

Chrysler’s Uconnect Web creates an EV-DO cellular connection that is then converted to Wi-Fi so that many passengers in the car can get secure Web access on their laptops, video game devices and other equipment, simultaneously, without wires, said Sterling Pratz, CEO of Autonet Mobile, which supplies the device to Chrysler. Autonet Mobile already sells a portable version of the car hot spot to Avis Rent A Car that can be rented for $10.95/day in major cities.

In its Chrysler version, Uconnect Web is hardwired to the car’s electrical system and the device is usually mounted in the trunk and an antenna is mounted on the vehicle. It delivers download speeds from 400kbps to 800kbps with upload speeds averaging 400kbps. The Wi-Fi service operates within 100 feet of the car and the Wi-Fi connection is secured with WEP and other encryptions. Pratz said his system can work on all cellular and WiMAX networks.

In addition to the $499 fee is a $35 to $50 installation fee, a $35 activation fee and a $29 monthly subscription fee. The customer also pays $29/month in service charges. Chrysler will supply appropriate Mopar wire harnesses to outfit past Chrysler vehicles. (info from TWICE)

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