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LTE and Tethering Update

Surely I must have missed a thread or two, but Elon tweeted the following eralier tonight:

"Tesla software knits together Google Voice, Slacker, Gracenote & others and streams over 3G (will be LTE later)" and "Over the air upgrade coming in a few months to allow tethering (and other things)."

Bummer about the "few months" before tethering, but great to know LTE is legitimately coming.

4G will be awesome. Does anyone else daytrade from their car. There is something really cool about trading TSLA from my car!

I have no idea what an LTE radio costs, but assume that TM must buy it (presumably a complete swappable cell phone card) from one of the cell phone hardware providers like Samsung, so I used a value that is less than half the cost currently charged for the latest LTE or 4g phone when purchased without a two year service contract (typically $650, but I used $250 assuming TM has volume purchasing power).

On the other hand, if TM links the LTE upgrade to an owner-paid contract with a specific wireless provider like Verizon or AT&T, then we might see the upgrade cost be very small or even free, like the cheaper phone upgrades that the carriers provide. My point is that there has to be some sort of shift in the wireless economics from TM toward the Model S owners, and the switch to LTE is the perfect time to make this happen. The sooner the better because TM is digging a bigger hole every day with customer deliveries that incorporate the old 3G technology.

I suspect an LTE module costs under $50. Likely less than half that. And I can't imagine installation would take more than 5 minutes, especially since they've been anticipating this from the start. It's surely an easily accessible plug and play solution.

@David Trushin (re. mobile wifi router) - Two things to consider: (1) Will the battery in the router keep enough charge if you're away from the car for an extended period, or will you lose the ability to communicate with the car via the smartphone app if the router's battery dies? (2) I don't know if the USB port power is switched with the car or always on, but I'd suspect that the power from is coming from the 12V battery.

@Robert22 - When Elon was in Norway, he announced that Tesla isn't planning to make money off the data plans but rather wants to get the best price he can for us and pass it along--if that means that Tesla eats our roaming charges if we drive outside the country. I did speak to someone at customer service, and he said they're looking into an option that would bundle Slacker Premium with the data plan. (This would be for the account that came with the car. The reason why they don't give out the password to that account is because it's not meant to be shared with other devices.)


I'm assuming that the wifi router will operate while the car is away from the house, not operate when I am home, and in any case when wifi router is not on, the native 3G in the car will provide the connectivity to the app and to Tesla for updates and data dumps. A little complicated, but hopefully, there will be a way to select wifi networks in a rule based fashion, like home network first, router when available, car 3G as fall back. Worst case, I can always pull the plug on the router when I park the car, but that's pretty messy solution. I think it will charge from the car so its battery is not an issue.

If none of this works, I'll go LTE in the car. It's hard to spec a system when it's pretty much a black box. Must wait for the details.


I've mentioned this before in another thread but if getting the best price on a data plan is the goal, all they need to do is ring up the new CEO of T-Mobile who has already guaranteed the lowest cost GSM service (in the US) and would probably provide an even better deal to Tesla since the publicity alone would be a marketer's dream. Unlimited talk, text, data and mobile hot spot with no contract is now $50.00/ month. Data presently steps down from LTE (or 3G if not iPhone 5) to 2G after 500MB but is being upgraded to 3G in most major markets now and in coming months as they re-farm spectrum. The bad: You can bring your own iPhone, but unless you purchase their tweaked iPhone 5 (slightly cheaper than through Apple) you can't access their LTE network. Still, 50 bucks/ month for all daily phone needs + car despite being limited to 3G is still worth considering IMHO. Coverage? Not as good as Verizon, but better than AT&T in most east coast locations and much better than it used to be if you had a bad experience three years ago. Signal strength is usually sufficient along major roadways and in metropolitan areas. Worth a look if you live and work in an area they cover. I have no relationship to or investment in the company, but they've saved me a pretty penny over the last decade.

@MandL - I agree the hardware cost is likely $25 or so if it's a separate replaceable module. Installation could be a major pain. If it's inside the 17" display, as I suspect it is, it may take a hour or more to pull it out of the dash and swap either an inside module or the entire display unit.

It's also unclear if the existing antenna is suitable for LTE, typically in the 700 MHz band, so it might need to be replaced too, and I think it's located at the top of the hatch glass, requiring considerable effort to access (removal of the hatch glass).

If there is an option in the hidden configuration menu for LTE, it doesn't mean the function exists. For example there is an option for parking sensors, but these clearly are not on the car, and there is no wiring in place for them either.

Anyway, the parts cost will be minor compared to the labor to install it. Let's hope it's not too difficult/expensive.

It's also possible at some point Tesla has or will switch to LTE hardware, so that those owners can be enabled by software. The only word I've heard from Tesla months ago is the cars at that time do not support LTE.

My car was delivered to me in February with the wrong firmware. I did not have a 3G connection and therefore couldn't even use the Navigation, Voice commands, or Slacker as they all require an internet connection. The Tesla service guy told me that my LTE chip was active and not my 3G chip, therefore I was not getting an internet connection. After installing the current firmware (4.1 at the time), 3G was active. Bottom line is that the car has an LTE chip already installed (at least based on what the service center told me), and it can be activated with a simple software update.

So so far i have heard reports from people on the forum and tesla reps that

1. The lte hardware is not present in the cars and
A. It will be upgraded for free.
B. It will be upgrade for a fee.
C. It will be upgrade for free if you have a service agreement
D. It will not be upgraded at all.

2. It is present but won't work.
3. It is present and is just a software upgrade.

Me, I'll just wait and see what happens.

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