Chicago — USTelematics is back on the scene, offering its Voyager overhead car monitor with Internet Protocol (IP) TV and WiMAX through a Chicago expediter and selling the product direct to consumers during the Chicago Auto Show, Feb. 13-21.
USTelematics plans to sell the Voyager only on monthly payment installments, with no initial charge for the equipment. Instead users pay $99/month and the fee includes Sprint charges for WiMAX service.
The Voyager is available as an overhead 10-inch monitor for the car or in a headrest monitor. It can access the Internet and stream video from the Internet and access an USTelematics Web portal serving various entertainment channels. It has a built-in modem and 80GB hard drive and creates a Wi-Fi hot spot in the car. A DVD player is integrated into the overhead monitor or it can be added to the headrest as a $130 upgrade. Other upgrades include built-in GPS at $100 and Bluetooth at $50.
The first month of ownership is at a reduced rate of $30/month, and customers can return the equipment during the first month, if not satisfied.
Clearwire has not yet officially turned on service for WiMAX in Chicago and said “the build for that market is underway,” and no deployment date has been announced, according to a spokeswoman.
USTelematics CEO Howard Leventhal, however, claimed the service is already widely available in the area.
“We’ve done a lot of testing from one end of the metropolitan area to the other and it works much, much better than EV-DO,” he said.
WiMAX has officially been deployed in Baltimore and Portland, Ore., by Clearwire, which may announce additional target markets at its next earnings conference call on March 5, said a spokeswoman.
WiMAX has been heralded as a promising technology for car electronics as it delivers 4G data download speeds of up to 6Mbps at a low user cost of $30/month.
Voyager was offered previously through a dozen retailers but was withdrawn from the market. In May, USTelematics announced a preliminary deal with Audiovox to distribute the product but the deal collapsed.
Leventhal would not name the Voyager’s expediter for competitive reasons but said it is the largest expediter in Chicago. He said Baltimore will be the Voyager’s next target market.