WiFi… in your car? Here’s your guide

budds in-car wifiAt home. At a friend’s. On a plane. In the coffee shop. At the mall. (And yes, even in the Budds’ waiting area, so you can work or play while we’re servicing your vehicle.)

The technology is so prevalent, we all just assume we can use it to get online wherever we are.

Until recently, it seemed one of the only places you could get away from WiFI was in your car.

But now, if you own a late model Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac you can get WiFi while on the move. For the 2018 model year every GM vehicle, from the chipper little Chevy Spark to the super-elegant Cadillac CT6, comes with Wi-Fi® hotspot functionality as part of the OnStar® 4G LTE service.

Occasionally we’ll hear someone say, “But why do I need WiFi when I have data on my phone?”

Allow us to explain.

4 reasons for using in-car WiFi

  1. Put tablets and laptops on the internet. Your phone is great for staying connected, but it’s hard to do much work on it. That’s why you also have a laptop. Need to download a sales spreadsheet while on the road? You can either waste time hunting for a coffee shop or just pull into the nearest parking spot and use your built-in WiFi.
  2. Keep passengers entertained. With GM’s WiFi technology you can connect up to seven devices. That lets your passengers update their social media status, watch movies, listen to music or play games.
  3. Get better reception. Your car isn’t the best place for good cellular reception. That’s because it’s a metal box! (Engineers call it a Faraday Cage. It’s why you’re safe from lightning in your car, but it makes for crappy reception.) When you use in-car WiFi you’re sending and receiving data through a high-quality, purpose-built antenna so you get a better signal.
  4. Save your data. If you’re “into” technology you might know that you can turn your phone into a hotspot. This uses your data plan, however—which means you can’t exactly watch Netflix.

How does it work?

wifi buddsWhen you buy a new GM vehicle you get OnStar included. OnStar is what’s called a telematics system, which means your car can connect wirelessly to an OnStar command center. (Don’t know if you’ve got OnStar? Look for the blue button at the bottom of the interior mirror.)

OnStar does some amazing things. If you remember the commercials from a few years back, you’ll know that you get into an accident, OnStar will alert the command center so they can send help. (And yes, it will know where you are.)

It can also unlock the doors if you leave your keys inside, and it will even send you (and us) service alerts when your vehicle needs attention.

But on top of that, you can upgrade your OnStar system to set up a WiFi hotspot.

When you first set it up you give your system a unique name and password, just as you probably did with your WiFi at home. Then when you want to connect a device it’s the same as when you’re anyplace else: find the network, enter the password and you’re on.

Who should be using built-in WiFi?

Anyone who ever gets online through WiFi should be using it, for all the same reasons: it’s easy and you can connect multiple devices. But if you want specific examples, consider these:

  • Realtors – let your clients from out-of-town download all the property details they want, for free.
  • Contractors – prepare and send quotes and proposals from the job site.
  • Salespeople – download the PowerPoint presentations the back office are preparing while you’re out, and submit reports and expense claims from the road rather than waiting until you’ve checked in to a hotel.
  • Parents on a road trip. Let the kids play games, watch movies or listen to music.
  • Anyone who wants to pretend they’re in the office when they’re not. Yes, sometimes everyone needs a little “me” time.

It’s time you were connected

With WiFi it’s easy to get online using your laptop, tablet or gaming device. Every new GM vehicle incorporates OnStar® 4G LTE with built-in Wi-Fi® hotspot capability, so now there’s no excuse not to be connected in your car!

To learn more about this technology, come see us at Budds’ Chevrolet Cadillac Buick GMC. We’d be happy to show you how easy it is to use.