AT&T snags OnStar wireless contract from Verizon (Update)

February 25, 2013 by Peter Svensson

AT&T Inc. is scoring a win over rival Verizon Wireless as it takes over the contract to supply wireless connections to cars with General Motors' OnStar service.

Verizon Wireless and its predecessor companies have supplied the network for OnStar since the service launched in the 1990s, but AT&T will take over with the 2015 model year, AT&T and GM said Monday.

The news comes as cellphone companies are jostling to connect non-phone devices to their networks. Now that nearly everyone has a phone, the phone companies have to look elsewhere for growth. Dallas-based AT&T has been particularly aggressive in this area, garnering, for instance, the contract to connect Amazon Kindle e-readers.

AT&T will connect OnStar cars to its new "4G LTE" network, which can supply much higher data speeds than current OnStar connections. That means GM could deliver car software updates wirelessly, instead of making owners take their cars to the shop. It could also enable video streaming for passengers, in-vehicle Wi-Fi "hotspots" and give GM a better view of what's going on inside a car, and whether it needs maintenance. Owners might even be able to call up views from their car's cameras, remotely.

"They're basically smartphones on wheels," said Glenn Lurie, head of AT&T's "emerging devices" division.

Verizon has an LTE network that delivers speeds similar to AT&T's, with wider coverage. Lurie said that by the time AT&T takes over the contract, its LTE network will cover 300 million Americans, or 96 percent of the population. It also has older, slower networks as a backup.

Verizon Wireless said it was looking forward to continuing to provide service to current OnStar customers.

AT&T and GM made the announcement just before the opening of Mobile World Congress, the world's largest wireless trade show, in Barcelona. The companies didn't reveal financial terms. The 6 million current OnStar users pay $19 per month or $199 per year, plus per-minute calling fees. Turn-by-turn GPS navigation costs extra, too.

British automotive research firm SBD believes that 100 million cars worldwide will have built-in wireless capabilities by 2015.

Explore further: OnStar, Google Partner to Expand Turn-by-Turn Navigation


Related Stories

OnStar, Google Partner to Expand Turn-by-Turn Navigation

June 9, 2010

OnStar and Google have reached an agreement that will let OnStar users search for and identify destinations using Google Maps and send those destinations to the Turn-by-Turn Navigation Service in their vehicles.

Verizon says fast 4G wireless coming to 38 cities

October 6, 2010

(AP) -- Verizon Wireless said Wednesday that its new wireless broadband network, which offers higher data speeds initially for laptop users, will be live before the end of the year in the cities on the Boston-to-Washington ...

GM to expand OnStar outside of its own models

January 5, 2011

(AP) -- The OnStar safety system is escaping from the boundaries of General Motors and will be available in the spring to people who own cars and trucks made by other auto companies.

AT&T takes wraps off wireless data network

September 16, 2011

Unbeknownst to most customers, AT&T Inc. has fired up a new wireless data network in five cities in the last few months, offering roughly double the speeds of its older network for a handful of devices.

OnStar opens gate for third-party developers

January 9, 2012

( -- OnStar staged a Sunday night conference at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to announce that the telematics provider will open its application program interface (API) to third-party developers. ...

T-Mobile USA to make data network work with iPhone

February 23, 2012

(AP) -- T-Mobile USA on Thursday said it will revamp its wireless data network this year, with the side effect of making it compatible with iPhones and some other smartphones sold by competing carriers.

Recommended for you

US ends bulk collection of phone data

November 30, 2015

The US government has halted its controversial program to collect vast troves of information from Americans' phone calls, a move prompted by the revelations of former intelligence analyst Edward Snowden.

The ethics of robot love

November 25, 2015

There was to have been a conference in Malaysia last week called Love and Sex with Robots but it was cancelled. Malaysian police branded it "illegal" and "ridiculous". "There is nothing scientific about sex with robots," ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.