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Car Internet Expands From Autonet Mobile

Another car maker, General Motors, will add Internet access directly to the car, joining Chrysler, which began providing a similar option in October.

Starting in April, the Cadillac CTS Sports sedan will offer a “mobile hot spot” supplied by Autonet Mobile, which also supplies the product to Chrysler and to the aftermarket through approximately 300 car stereo retailers.

The Cadillac CTS Sports sedan will offer the hot spot as an option at Cadillac dealerships (not at the factory) at an expected $499 plus a $29 monthly service charge.

Autonet claims Chrysler has sold “thousands” of the hot spots since October. The new Cadillac version will be one-third smaller than the earlier Chrysler model and will be transportable from car to car, if the user buys an optional $49 cradle. It still requires professional installation, however.

Sterling Pratz, CEO of Autonet Mobile, said, “General Motors says its customers are asking for the Internet.” Autonet expects to announce a third, German, car maker will also offer the Autonet Mobile device in the near future.

The Cadillac version will be unveiled at the New York International Auto Show, April 10-19.

Autonet will also introduce an updated version of the hot spot to aftermarket retailers in June — similar to that of the Cadillac — which may be shuttled between cars and which is smaller in size than the original.

The Autonet hot spot creates an EV-DO cellular connection that is then converted to Wi-Fi so that many passengers in the car can access Internet service for their laptops, gaming machines and other devices.

Autonet claims its product manages the EV-DO connection down to the packet layer, so the system holds on to packets and redistributes them to prevent dropped calls.

Pratz said car passengers today want to listen to Internet radio, check email and watch YouTube videos while in their cars.

Ford also offers Internet access through car computers aimed at road warriors, available on it F-series trucks and commercial E-series vans.