In-Car Internet Access

If you’ve ever been on a long road trip with children, you know how valuable mobile internet access can be. From streaming movies to playing games to downloading apps, in-car Wi-Fi can help pacify even the most restless passengers.

Today, a growing number of vehicles offer internet access through a wireless hotspot. But although convenient, this new technology isn’t free.

In-car internet access provides information, entertainment and business connectivity for drivers and passengers who need them. The deciding factor for most buyers is which option is most cost effective.

Built-in Wi-Fi is limited to certain years, models and trim packages. On these vehicles, automakers roll the hardware costs into the vehicle purchase price. On other cars, it may be possible for the dealer to add Wi-Fi capability. For example, Nissan and Infiniti owners who want a hotspot can purchase a dealer-installed module for around $450.

Once you have an in-car wireless hotspot, you’ll need a data plan – just like with your cell phone. In fact, you may be able to add your vehicle to an existing cell phone plan for as little as $10 per month, plus data charges. Automakers also offer plans, some with unlimited data for around $20 per month.

Because automakers are moving toward the use of telematics to provide vehicle software updates, internet connectivity is likely here to stay. However, it remains to be seen whether the growing use of mobile hotspots is a short-term novelty or a long-term trend.

Remember, cell phones and in-car devices can cause distraction. For the safety of passengers – and other road users – drivers must responsibly manage their actions and attention whenever they are behind the wheel.