Volvo taps AT&T to add cellular connection to cars

It's the latest win for AT&T, which has racked up a number of impressive contracts with the automakers.

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Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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Roger Cheng
2 min read

AT&T's Drive Studio in Atlanta. AT&T

Volvo is the latest automaker to sign up with AT&T, which will provide a cellular connection to cars rolling on to the showroom floor this summer.

Volvo and AT&T signed a multi-year agreement for wireless connectivity. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

It's the latest win for AT&T, which has pushes its advantage in the burgeoning area of connected cars with yet another big customer. It already has deals with General Motors, Audi, and Tesla to supply their wireless connectivity. With AT&T's core smartphone business maturing, the company is increasingly looking at non-traditional areas such as the car for growth.

For Volvo, a cellular connection will power Sensus Connect, a new "infotainment" system also linked to its Volvo On Call service, which provides remote access to certain car functions and an emergency crash notification service. The automakers are increasingly looking at these additional services as a way to bolster interest in their vehicles and generate more revenue.

Volvo plans to enable cars with cellular connection starting with its 2015 models, which come out later this year. It will employ HSPA+, a wireless standard that is slower than its LTE, but which AT&T still regards as 4G.

Volvo will use AT&T's Single SIM platform to provide coverage in the US and Canada. AT&T said the single SIM will allow Volvo to manage its wireless device deployment and operations across the two markets, as well as employ advanced diagnostic tools and smart alerts.

AT&T has arguably been the most aggressive among the carriers in signing up automakers. The company went so far as to build a separate facility, its AT&T Drive Studio in Atlanta, to help automakers test out cellular services in their vehicles.