AT&T Adds to Connected Car Ranks Building on GM, Audi

AT&T Inc., the largest U.S. phone company, said it reached a deal with a global automaker to add to its ranks of customers seeking connectivity in its cars.

The carmaker, based outside Asia, will have vehicles using AT&T’s wireless services in markets including China in a matter of weeks, said Joe Mosele, an AT&T vice president for devices including connected autos. He declined to name the automaker, which will be an addition to customers including Volvo Car Group, General Motors Co. and Tesla Motors Inc.

“It was a big win for AT&T,” Mosele said yesterday in an interview in Tokyo. The Dallas-based carrier said in October that Tesla chose its high-speed wireless service, adding to deals with GM for models across its lineup and another for Volkswagen AG’s Audi A3.

Automakers are competing for drivers looking to be connected while in their vehicles. Technology to do that is the top selling point for 39 percent of auto buyers, more than twice the 14 percent who say their first consideration is traditional performance measures such as power and speed, according to a study consulting firm Accenture released in December.

AT&T announced yesterday a multiyear agreement to bring high-speed wireless access to Volvo Car Group’s vehicles. The second-largest U.S. wireless carrier will provide mobile connections for Volvo services such as Internet radio, maps and Volvo On Call, which lets drivers remotely start up their cars and alerts the company’s emergency center if an airbag goes off.

Tesla Deal

AT&T said last year that all Tesla cars would come equipped with its network chips, which allow two-way connections for services such as roadside assistance and stolen-vehicle location. The Tesla service also would include Internet access, navigation and entertainment on a 17-inch (43-centimeter) touch screen. Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.

Also last year, GM’s OnStar announced a partnership with AT&T to offer 4G LTE wireless service in 2015 model-year vehicles in the U.S. and Canada, and the carrier said Audi’s 2015 A3 would become the first car to offer a high-speed connection, with a monthly subscription fee of $16.50.

GM will release pricing details for 4G LTE in the coming months. The automaker will offer a trial period, similar to how it provides the OnStar service to customers before a subscription is required, Mosele said.

AT&T rose 1.2 percent to close $36.10 yesterday in New York.