Chevy, AT&T to offer $20 unlimited data plan for cars

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. said Thursday it will offer a $20 a month prepaid unlimited data plan through AT&T for 4.1 million Chevrolet and other GM vehicles in the U.S. that are equipped with OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.

The new plan is available starting Friday and includes Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles with the hotspot. It comes after GM said Chevy owners in the U.S. used more than 4 million gigabytes of data last year. Chevrolet has sold more than 3.1 million vehicles since June 2014 equipped with OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspots and says it has more vehicles with a 4G LTE connection on the road than any other carmaker.

GM hopes the new plan will boost subscriptions for data use, said Vijay Iyer, director of global communications for GM, Global Connected Customer Experience and Urban Mobility. GM would not disclose how many data subscribers it has.

OnStar currently charges $10 a month for 1 gigabyte of data, $20 a month for 4 gigabytes and $40 a month for 10 gigabytes of data. Data passes also are available for $5 for 250 megabytes of data per day, or 20 gigabytes used over 12 months for $150. Data plans are available through AT&T or through OnStar.

GM said it will offer the $10 a month plan for 1 gigabyte, the $20 a month unlimited plan and the daily and 12-month passes going forward.

Use of the Wi-Fi hotspot has increased since launching the service and was up nearly 200 percent more compared to 2015. GM said that in 2016, Chevy owners and passengers streamed the equivalent of more than 17.5 million hours of video.

“We have contractors bidding jobs in their Silverados, families streaming movies in their Suburbans and Malibus, and everyone tapping into the cloud for music,” Alan Batey, president of GM North America and global head of Chevrolet, said in a statement. “With the most affordable unlimited 4G LTE data plan in the auto industry, the widest availability of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and new connected services like OnStar AtYourService, our momentum can only grow.”

When it launched the 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspots, GM had high hopes for the connected service and initially gave customers a free three-month trial. Former CEO Dan Akerson saw it as a revenue maker for the company and GM in 2015 said its OnStar 4G LTE connections could be worth $350 million in profits by 2018.

Initial data plans were more expensive than what’s currently offered.

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