Subaru looks to get mileage from WiFi connectivity

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Next year's Subaru Outback models will include the options of heated leather seats, GPS navigation and ... in-car WiFi. The carmaker says that it will add a secure WiFi hotspot with Internet access for over 10 users inside the car or within 150 feet of it (apparently if you're not wearing seatbelts).

The WiFi system is being supplied by Autonet Mobile which uses 3G networks to feed the in-car system. Subaru said the option will be available for $499 with a $35 activation fee and $29 a month for a gigabyte and $59 a month for 5 gigabytes, noting further that "if data is transferred over the limit, the connection is progressively slowed for every bit of data transfer beyond the plan's limit." Subaru said the system covers 97 percent of the U.S.

The biggest problem with the system is that it relies on notoriously slow 3G to deliver data to the car. While the in-car network will be WiFi-quick, the out-of-car reception will depend on wireless connectivity, which could be why InformationWeek noted that "in-car WiFi has been catching on in fits and starts." It also could be a reason why Tyco Electronics (NYSE: TEL), with its connections business, purchased ADC (Nasdaq: ADCT), with its Distributed Antenna System business.

For more:
- see this news release
- and this story

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