Latest generation of cars to become wifi hotspots

By next year up-market new Fords will include an in-car entertainment and information system will use a USB mobile broadband modem to establish a secure wireless connection capable of supporting several devices simultaneously.
“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.”

Several car makers already offer in-car internet access — Japanese drivers have been using it since 1997. Ford’s announcement follows General Motors’ promise last week to make in-car connectivity available in seven models of trucks and SUVs; Mercedes recently announced it has successfully tested in-vehicle internet applications — including web browsing, vehicle software updates and VOIP — on a prototype 4G network; it follows BMW’s internet-connected iDrive system and Chrysler’s Uconnect Web in-vehicle mobile hotspot..
Given how connected we are, it makes sense for automakers to put the internet in our cars. The number of iPhones and other mobile devices being used to connect to the internet jumped 75% in the third quarter of this year, according to JiWire Mobile Audiences Insights Report.

Letting people log on from the road will be a big selling point among 20-something buyers, the so-called Millennials who will make up 28% of the driving population next year, a nine-point increase from 2004. Kids aside, Ford says interest in in-car connectivity is high among the general public, with one-third of people surveyed by the Consumer Electronics Association expressing interest in being able to check e-mail or surf the web from the car – as long as they are not electrosensitive…

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First Published December 2009

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