Car Industry

Your BMW's access to SOS services will probably disappear

If your Bimmer uses a 2G mobile connection -- and that's most of them -- you have until the end of the year to keep using it or switch to something newer.

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Using 2G in 2016 is an exercise in frustration, yet it seemed world-changing a decade ago.

BMW

Mobile internet providers will slowly shut off 2G networks over the next two years. Not only will this affect your decade-old phone, it could screw with your connected car's access to safety services, which is what's happening with BMW.

After December 31, 2016, BMW drivers with 2G mobile connectivity will lose access to services including SOS, Concierge Call and BMW Assist eCall, Telematics News reports. The automaker has set up a site where owners can see if they'll be affected. This isn't because BMW is shutting it down, it's because mobile networks will no longer support 2G services.

It appears the majority of connected Bimmers will be affected. Telematics News notes that this shutdown covers all BMWs sold before 2014, as well as some BMWs as new as the 2016 model year. BMW did not deny the report, but it added that the only 2016 vehicle affected is the Z4 coupe, which is now out of production.

BMW is offering three different compensation options for affected drivers. The options include a $300 Lifestyle and Accessories voucher, a $200 BMW Visa gift card and a retrofit of updated cellular technology. It's unclear if the retrofit adds 3G or 4G LTE, but that last option will require an annual subscription of $199.

The process of closing down 2G networks is called "sunsetting." As AT&T's sunsetting FAQ notes, sunsetting occurs so telecoms can focus on newer technologies that most users have moved to. Not every telecom is on the same schedule, but it's smart for BMW to get ahead of this by several months, as it's unlikely that all buyers understood that their connected cars wouldn't stay connected in perpetuity.

In the interim, if you have a BMW with a mobile connection and are concerned that your vehicle may be affected, you can put the last seven digits of your VIN into BMW's site to see what's up.

Update, November 8: Added manufacturer comment.