5G, eSIM turn cars into mobile phones, WiFi hotspots

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Making and receiving phone calls, streaming content, downloading software updates and serving as a WiFi hotspot for other devices will increasingly be done by cars – with no phone needed – with the speed and quality of 5G.

These are some of the use cases highlighted by BMW and T-Mobile when announcing built-in 5G support available on the new BMW iX and i4. T-Mobile’s Magenta Drive postpaid plan offers 5G connectivity to these electric cars.

“Cars are evolving from a mere mode of transportation to an extension of home and work, and people on the go depend more than ever on premium connectivity to deliver personalized in-car experiences and entertainment,” said T-Mobile said in a statement. Press release advertising its service for these cars.

Added built-in 5G connectivity

Besides BMW, several other automakers will also deploy vehicles equipped on the assembly line with the necessary hardware to connect to 5G. Such plans have been announced by Verizon Business and Audi of America, LG and an unnamed European automaker, and AT&T and General Motors (GM).

Audi and GM said they plan to start adding built-in 5G connectivity to select models in the United States during the 2024 model year.

Read more: More vehicles will roll off the assembly lines with 5G built-in

To enable connectivity on its two new cars, BMW will equip them with an embedded SIM (eSIM), which is a SIM card embedded in a mobile device such as a cellphone, tablet or smartwatch. In this case, the mobile device will be the car.

Offer new use cases for cars

This allows a customer to add their car to their existing mobile phone plan. T-Mobile noted that this means customers can make in-car calls using their personal cell phone number, even when their phone isn’t present. This also means that customers will receive incoming call notifications from the phone and the vehicle simultaneously.

In addition, connecting the car to the cellular network allows the customer to take advantage of the car’s 5G antenna to obtain a stronger and more stable cellular signal and to allow the use of a Wi-Fi hotspot in the car. car – “providing users with high-speed Internet access for mobile office work or video streaming in Full HD quality,” BMW said in its own announcement.

Building a market for connected services

Connectivity can also follow the driver to other compatible BMW vehicles, such as a rental or shared car, as the BMW Personal eSIM is linked to the user’s BMW ID. Users only need to log in with their BMW ID on the My BMW app, then they can make and receive calls from the car using their own mobile phone number.

Even if users do not subscribe to the mobile phone plan, vehicles will still use 5G to download software upgrades remotely to the car in a fraction of the time it takes for previous cars.

Together, these capabilities provided by integrated 5G have led manufacturers of passenger cars, large trucks and powersports vehicles to announce their intention to generate recurring revenue from their vehicles long after they are sold. Using vehicle connectivity, owners can keep their vehicles up to date with the latest software as well as purchase additional vehicle capabilities and connected services.

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