No GSM service

I just got my Model S on Sunday and enjoying every minute of the new experience (almost). All of the nav features and functions seem to operate through Google maps which stream to the car through the 3G connection. The only problem is that ATT service is very spotty where I live and the map frequently goes blank while driving around my neighborhood and the navigation feature is completely non existent when I am in my own driveway. Not only is it annoying to not have the map on the dash all of the time as I have with all of my previous cars, I can't even enter in an address to navigate to until I get about a mile away from home. I am finding this very annoying and wished I had known this before purchasing the car. There should be a fix to use CDMA (Verizon) which has much better coverage in the northeast. As more of these cars are sold in the NY area, I think Tesla will be faced with this issue more frequently. No one at customer support has been able to give me a decent answer on a potential fix for this.

I think it is very unlikely that you would have a CDMA option, as that would require completely different hardware in the car. Since T-Mobile also uses GSM, it is more likely that you would be able to put in a T-Mobile SIM and use that, but I wouldn't count on switching to CDMA - even if the cellular radio were a separate component, it isn't going to be cheap to make at these low volumes. Every place besides the US only uses GSM.

I get it but now I just spent $80,000 on a brand new state of the art vehicle and a basic feature that is a available in most midsized sedans is not available to me. One rep on the phone said that there may be a tethering option coming out where the car can tether to my phone via blue-tooth or WiFi and use my personal phone's data plan to connect to the internet. This could be a fix but would use significant extra data on my phone which just doesn't seem right. besides, another feature I am unable to use now when my car is parked in my own garage is the ability to check on it via my smart-phone app as the car is "offline" when it is parked. I am surprised Tesla did not think of this. I suppose one other solution to the nav issue would be for Tesla to create the ability to download the maps into the "memory" of the car to be used when there is no internet connection. It is my understand that the actual location of the car is tracked in the traditional fashion of using satellite to track GPS coordinates..

@dpsinger - correct, GPS coordinates come from satellite. Google Maps on a phone will cache map tiles locally, and even perform some basic rerouting without a network connection, so it is certainly possible they could add that feature. However, even there, you must have network connectivity to start navigation.

I have no idea if Tesla intends to do it, but they could also have it connect to home wifi for network connectivity while it is sitting in your garage.

has anyone heard anything about when WiFi connectivity will be available. I can live with WiFi when in my driveway and tethering to my phone in the situations where I know I will not have GSM service. The blank screen right now is driving me a bit nuts and the lack of information from the Tesla customer reps is not only surprising but frustrating.

Nothing definitive about Wifi connectivity, or even what form it will take. Personally, my guess would be it is well down the priority list, behind things like fixing bugs and adding timed charging/climate control.

It's been known for a while that Tesla was going to use ATT. There have been several posts about the Tech package and the down side of not getting. If you have the tech package and your maps are not stored locally then I would contact Tesla. If you did not get the tech package then you bought the car without onboard maps. That is not Tesla's problem. An onboard mapping system cost extra with a Model S. That is very clear on the options page. Yes some other manufactures offer on board maps with their cars and hide the costs in the price of the car. Tesla does not.

I don't have service at either of my homes from any wireless provider, so am looking forward to wifi. I also bought the tech package to get locally stored maps, for the same reason.

I am sure Tesla appreciates you sticking up for them but I DID get the tech package. I have contacted Tesla twice now and neither of the people I spoke to on the phone were much help and neither has gotten back to me as they said they would. I am a huge fan of the car and the company and I am not a technical novice. that is why I am so surprised I am having these issues.

@Sudre_ - it has been reported before that the onboard navigation system still requires net access for downloading map tiles from Google and for the initial address lookup.

Wow.. sorry guys. I am really glad I never got the tech package then. What a total waist that would have been for me.

Nationwide internet connectivity is not Teslas problem. Cellular networks perform poorly in some areas and not at all in others, this in and of itself is not news. As has been said GSM is what the rest of the world uses for the most part so it was and is the logical choice over CDMA which is basically just in the U.S. The GSM footprint in the states however is not anywhere near as robust as CDMA.

The lack of ability to use Navigation while driving around ones own neighborhood? Probably not a huge problem either, an annoyance? perhaps.

A configurable option to choose ones connectivity preference when ordering ones car or having both radios pre installed and unlocked so one could activate their car on the network of their choice seems like a more user friendly option. And again unless there was a cost issue or some proprietary reason (required by Tesla to communicate with the car) seems a glaring omission.

Wifi connectivity however seems like a no brainer and IMHO should have been in the cars at rollout!

I have the tech package and haven't had issues with coverage, but IIRC, early car owners (all sigs, so all with tech package) reported that, as promised, the on-board nav worked without 3G--though the Google maps (which come from the 'net) wouldn't show up. So I'm surprised to read differently now. I even remember a video of this........but maybe it was someone who was already routed somewhere, who lost signal along the way.

I'm not even sure how a GPS with a database (which is more than just maps! it's all the info needed to plot A to B routing) would work...with a full address entered, what would it be looking for on the 'net? (I presume you weren't doing things like "Find Starbucks" which I am not surprised would search the 'net.)

@dpsinger: Have you tried rebooting both screens? Also, I'm curious, if you type in a full address, including ZIP code, what happens--error message, or no response, or what? What if you pick someone from your contacts (if you have those sync'd up)?

If I knew of a nearby dead cell zone around me (never one when you need it; always when you don't ;-)...I'd try this out instead of asking, sorry. Thanks!

@Superliner - I disagree that GSM footprint is smaller than CDMA. It may be for particular providers a given area is poorly covered, but for example at my house, in a suburb of a major metro area, has lousy connectivity via Verizon and Sprint, yet great with T-Mobile and ok with AT&T. All the small carriers are just GSM, so put together you have better coverage with GSM (though some rural areas will require roaming).

You can say any number of things should have been in the car, but given there is finite time available to implement features, what would you suggest they leave out? I'm sure we can get all the customers to agree on what features are important, right?

In the end, they made their decision and you either like it or you don't. The biggest problem for a startup (and yes, I think Tesla is still in startup phase despite having shipping 2k Roadsters before the Model S) is which features to leave out, not which ones to put in.

As I thought, navigation does work without 3G, with the tech package.

"navigation is still functional but the handoff from Google to Navigon is, of course, unavailable"

Q: "and did the navigation work? What firmware are you running?" A: "Yes and 4.2 (...42)."

I'm not sure that squares with dpsinger's experience--maybe a bug or something.


Perhaps I should reword I mean GSM is smaller as in "less square miles covered" NOT less customers serviced (which may be incorrect?) if so I stand corrected. IMHO Smart money for tesla would be to allow the car to communicate over both CDMA and GSM "My cellphone can" therefore works around the globe for the most part. Who knows perhaps the car has the capability but that too "see below" has not been enabled yet.

As far as features not being shipped with the car "as advertised" Like has been said elsewhere the "early adopters" or pioneers are slowly being replaced with the ave. joe car buyers "settlers" and if the website says a car has a feature they likely won't be as forgiving as those who have chosen to endure the growing pains. Especially not at these price points. Thanks to those who have their cars and the recent media circus as well as the success of the Model S itself, Tesla is under a much brighter spotlight. Subsequently issues like this / these become much more damning to the brand when those who are NOT tech junkies or adopters who want the latest and greatest "and can afford it" begin receiving cars with advertised features that don't work due to not being enabled or don't ship with the car.

There are ALOT more NYT Broder types out there just waiting for the NEXT thing that the Model S can't do as advertised. Many of whom are just folks who might be considering replacing their Cadillac, Lincoln, Lexus, etc. seeing the S as a practical solution being the first BEV that offers a practical family sedan that can be added to a multicar stable.

Don't get me wrong I want Tesla to succeed "and agree it's still a startup" (I'm a shareholder as well), But Some of these things are valid points. Months to get parcel shelves, WIFI not enabled, Music storage not available in the head unit, HPWC not shipping, 40kw car reservations put on back burner by 4-6 months or more?? to make quarterly reports look better???

As the Model S becomes more mainstream hopefully Tesla can get some or all of these things mopped up.

Rant "off" Excuse the length

How many times do you think that laundry list will occur? Of course it's unfortunate it even happened once. But it will steadily be reduced and not recur, although a few items might occasionally pop up again. It's not what will face the "average buyer". Most of whom are NOT Broder types looking to fake failures to make the car look bad.


After 30 + years working in the automotive industry I can only say don't give customers that much credit. Generally they are their own worst enemy.

Most are exactly the Broder type, difference is they don't have a "bully pulpit" to broadcast from.

Yabbut, putt-putts deserve it. The Model S transports one to a higher level of consciousness. Usually. ;)

Thanks for all of the advice and sorry for the delay in checking back in. I have spoken to about half a dozen Tesla reps both on the phone and at service center about this and I have not gotten the exact same answer twice. What I have learned is that I can in fact use the nav even when I am not in range of GSM service by simply typing in the address. I don't get the google map on the center dash and I dont get all of the google POI functionality but I do in fact have nag. That is good.

My issue is that my car is simply not connected to internet when in my garage. It is not the end of the world but I do lose functionality and some of the "cool" factor of the car. For example, my smart phone app can't connect to the car so I don't know what my charge is up to. Also, I can't turn on the heat remotely (bigger deal in NY in Feb then it is in CA) which is not a must have but a feature that I kind of aid for but is now only teasing me.

What is most frustrating is tat I can't get anyone to tell me what fix may be coming first. WiFi? Tethering to my Verizon phone? I even went out and got an ATT Micro Cell to hook up to my home internet router. It gives 4 bars of 3G service for ATT in my house but I need to program in up to 15 ATT phone numbers that I want to allow access but Tesla refuses to tell me the phone number attached to my particular vehicle. I tried the tech at service center who went into the diagnostics on my car and gave me what he thought was the number but the ATT website says it does not recognize it. UGH!!!!!!

Put a "hole" in the garage roof? (radio-transparent material).

I have also been told that there will be no maps if you don't have 3G. I find that to be an extremely serious omission. Even my wife's 10 year old car has that.

I have been using Microsoft's Streets and Trips in my RV for 9 years and love it. You can set course up or north up. You can make a route from A to B to C to ... not just A to B. I would be glad if I could connect a portable DVD drive to the car via usb and have S&T show up on the center screen.

Better yet Tesla installed a mapping program that works all the time even without 3G.

They do make GSM signal rebroadcasters/boosters. I too have an ATT Micro Cell, but since I switched to Verizon, I can't even attempt to connect it since I no longer have an account. I may get one of these boosters, but I'm holding out that Tesla will enable WiFi access so the car can connect via WiFi when it's available.

Brian. Thanks for the thought but first of all I don't think my son, who's room is over the gararge, will like that very much. Second, the issue is not my house but rather my neighborhood. Even if you were sitting on the roof of my house you would not be able to use your ATT phone.

Alex, My company has both ATT and Verizon phones so I was able to get the MicroCell but as of now I can't seem to get that work. The Microcell requires me to enter the phone number of the car and the one I was able to retrive is not being recognized by ATT. I actually don't think that Tesla is actually using ATT. They may have struck a better temporary deal with another GSM provider (T-Mobile?)

@dpsinger - If you can borrow an AT&T phone, check whether you have reception. If you do, you might have the Service Center check your car's antenna. Also, AT&T does occasionally upgrade its network, so this problem may not be forever. Maybe you should complain to AT&T.

I recently drove through southern Oregon/northern California where there was no cell phone reception whatsoever. I still got maps and routing on the dashboard screen, although the touch screen showed only blank tiles. I have the tech package, of course.

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