• The mobile Internet makes its way into cars….

Wifi Routers installed in cars ( Above Image)

Just as radios evolved from hulking home consoles into expected accessories in virtually all cars, so may Wi-Fi Internet access break free to become a commonplace automotive. That’s the hope of Autonet Mobile, a company that supplies,  in-car Wi-Fi routers that let passengers use laptops and other mobile devices in their vehicles.

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Having a mobile WiFi hotspot in a vehicle can have numerous convenient applications. Most mobile computers and many gadgets now uses WiFi connectivity and can all take advantage of this rolling WiFi. Not only does it allow access to the internet and to email, but users can also take advantage of streaming media such as music and video, and can even take advantage of WiFi phones that utilize  VOIP technaolgy

By 2016, consumers will consider such Internet connectivity as important as traditional features such as safety and fuel economy, said Thilo Koslowski, vice president of the Automotive Manufacturing Industry Advisory Service at market researcher Gartner, Inc.

Potential customers were skeptical of Wi-Fi in vehicles, but have recently become more in favor of the idea, according to Autonet Mobile CEO Sterling Pratz. With the stamp of approval from car makers, Autonet Mobile’s sales have grown 50 percent every month since November, he said.

In addition to buying the router, a 20-minute installation to place it in the trunk of a vehicle should cost another $35-$50 depending on the shop, Autonet Mobile says. The monthly 3G data service costs $29, with a $35 activation fee. More than half of consumers say they would like Internet access in their cars, compared to only 16 percent who thought it was a good idea a few year.

“Too early for us to judge” its success, he said. “It has the potential to be a big thing going forward. It could be really ubiquitous, but it depends on what the evolution of portable devices is.”

Data speed comparable to 3G
It’s possible to have mobile Internet access in the car and everywhere else either through a mobile phone with data service or using a laptop that has a cellular modem card and Internet service. But Autonet Mobile says that data doesn’t stream as smoothly over those services as it does using the company’s system which is optimized to maintain continuous contact as service is handed off from one cell tower to another.

That makes watching videos and listening to Internet radio much more pleasant, Pratz said. And, of course, having Internet access on those cellular devices does not extend that connection to other users and their devices like the game systems.

Data speeds are similar to those of other 3G cellular devices, running between 800 kilobits and 1.2 megabits per second. Among Autonet Mobile customers, the company says it is seeing 2.7 average users per car. That sounds higher than the typical number of occupants in the average car, but it may be that drivers who have Wi-Fi in their cars are carpool drivers or families with children.

Another entertainment means for kids
Certainly the prospect of productive passengers busily checking e-mail or gathering needed information while driving to work or to meetings, and that of kids in the back seat occupied with YouTube videos, Facebook, MySpace, Webkinz and games sounds plenty attractive, said Doug VanDagans, Ford’s director of connected services solutions organization.

VanDagans, who said he has examined Autonet Mobile’s technology, questions the number of customers who would be willing to pay for the router hardware and the $29 monthly data fee on top of the cost of the mobile voice and data plans they may already have.

Posted by

C.S.Sumanth (MGIT- ECE 1st year)

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