Need to access USENET on the go? More cars are hitting the information superhighway thanks to new automotive Wi-Fi technology that allows vehicles to become rolling “hot spots”. You’re next red light may be an opportunity to some to check out their favorite newsgroups.
“Initially, putting Internet access in the car sounds like a distraction and frivolous but as time passes it will become a part of our lives and we will feel uncomfortable not having access,” said Jeff Kagan, an independent telecoms analyst on a post in technology newsgroups. “I think this is going to grow into a vibrant sector.”
While some manufacturers already include optional Wi-Fi hot-spot technology in their higher-end offerings, industry analysts claim that Internet connectivity will become a standard feature among most mid- to high-end vehicles in the near future.
Ford Motor Company has offered wi-fi in selected vehicle models since 2010 and some form of internet access is an option for many other automakers including General Motors, BMW, Audi, Saab and Chrysler. The technology allows users to access online channels with most mobile devices, including enabled phones, laptops and now tablets – all of them which offer mobile newsreaders to access USENET newsgroups.
Market watcher iSuppli claims that shipments of in-car Wi-Fi systems will reach 7.2 million in 2017, up from a mere 174,000 last year.
The majority of in-car Wi-Fi systems act as a Wi-Fi to 3G gateway, allowing passengers’ smartphones, tablets, and laptops to connect to the Internet even while the car is in motion. Future systems will also integrate with in-car entertainment and navigation systems, allowing the driver to benefit from instantly-updated traffic information and passengers from streamed entertainment.
Analysts expect the market to grow as more entertainment, navigation and vehicle diagnostic applications become available. However, one hurdle for developers of the technology is knowing whether to offer wi-fi as a separate data system or allow consumers to connect their own.