The ZTE Mobley will be AT&T's first plug-and-play vehicle Wi-Fi hotspot when it hits dashboards starting September 11. While on the road, the Mobley will provide 4G LTE-speed Internet access to up to five Wi-Fi connected mobile devices, such as tablets, laptops and handheld game consoles.
The Mobley is powered by a Qualcomm MDM9215 processor and plugs into the host vehicle's onboard diagnostics (OBD II) port, which can be found in most cars of model year 1996 or newer beneath the dashboard. The Mobley automatically powers up with the car's ignition and turns itself off when the engine is shut down.
Other than drawing power, ZTE's release makes no mention of any diagnostics functionalities or remote vehicle monitoring that the Mobley gains from tapping into the car's OBD II port, which has me wondering why even use the port at all. After a summer riddled with stories of cars being hacked, sometimes via, I'm hesitant to plug anything into the diagnostics port that doesn't strictly need to be there.
On the other hand, the ability to simply plug in a little black box and, without much setup or any cable management, get enough Wi-Fi to keep a car full of rowdy kids (or restless adults) occupied is sure to be a draw for some.
The ZTE Mobley will be available in AT&T stores and online at att.com/mobley on September 11 for $0 with a two-year service agreement or for $100 contract-free. AT&T will will provide data to the Mobley in monthly 1GB servings for $20 or in 3GB helpings for $30. of data. Alternatively, Mobile Share Value customers can add the device to their shared data pool for plan for $10 per month.