How Does In-Car Wi-Fi Work?
New cars are bursting with cutting-edge features that make riding in the cabin feel more like lounging on the couch at home — and that includes digital connectedness. Most American families have Wi-Fi access at home that allows them to freely browse the internet without using their mobile data plan, so it makes sense that this access is now becoming integrated into the newest vehicles.
If you’ve seen Wi-Fi listed as a feature on a car but don’t understand how that actually works (do you get free unlimited internet access?), here’s the scoop on in-car Wi-Fi.
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How in-car Wi-Fi allows you to access the internet while driving
The most common form of Wi-Fi included in vehicles is 4G LTE Wi-Fi. The car’s infotainment system acts like a router and brings internet access into the cabin that occupants can pair their devices to. This is possible in models that are already able to connect to the internet if needed for other communication or navigation functions. Automakers partner with companies like Sprint or AT&T to make this possible.
Like most things in life, in-car Wi-Fi costs money. If you buy a new car, the automaker will offer a trial period where you can use the service for free for a couple months — just like the free trial of satellite radio or OnStar. Once that time passes, though, you have to pay to keep it.
Generally, this Wi-Fi service is not part of your home’s internet plan, nor is it an extension of your cellular service. You gain access by paying a monthly fee through the automaker, and the rates can vary based on how many GB of data you want (yes, there is a limited amount of internet access you can have via in-car Wi-Fi).
Still, in-car Wi-Fi is a much better, more reliable option than using your phone as a hotspot while travelling and as more automakers offer this feature, you’ll be able to buy pre-owned models with in-car Wi-Fi.
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The News Wheel is a digital auto magazine providing readers with a fresh perspective on the latest car news. We’re located in the heart of America (Dayton, Ohio) and our goal is to deliver an entertaining and informative perspective on what’s trending in the automotive world. See more articles from The News Wheel.