General Motors and AT&T will be rolling out 5G connectivity in select Chevy, Cadillac and GMC vehicles from model year 2024, in a boost that the two companies say will bring more reliable software updates, faster navigation and downloads, and better coverage on roadways.
Executives said in a media briefing that the rollout of the 5G architecture will also bring benefits for GM models that are 4G LTE-equipped, such as those from model year 2019 and newer. Once available, vehicle owners of select models “will easily migrate to the new network infrastructure once available,” the companies said in a news release.
“There’s going to be a performance boost and improvements as AT&T improves their infrastructure, so that the vehicles connected with 4G capabilities, model year 19 and beyond, they will also start to perceive an improvement in their performance,” GM’s VP of global connected services, Santiago Chamorro, said during a media briefing Wednesday.
5G technology has generated a lot of hype for its promises to boost speed and reduce latency across a range of industries, a next-gen tech that everyone thought would change the world far sooner than now. That hasn’t happened (yet), in part because network rollout was much slower than people anticipated. So this announcement can be taken as a clear signal that, at the very least, AT&T thinks its 5G network will be mature enough to handle “millions” of connected vehicles by 2024.
Tom DeMaria, GM’s executive director of global connected services, added that the performance boost will not require GM pushing a significant software update to vehicles, but that the vehicles will be “seamlessly migrated.”
Faster and more reliable connectivity is key to many automakers’ market plans, which nearly across the board involve complex in-car software features and wireless over-the-air updates to keep everything from the music system to (if it’s an electric vehicle) the battery operational. It will also be key for other technologies like advanced driver assistance systems, which are swiftly becoming another key way that automakers seek to distinguish themselves to drivers.
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General Motors has been developing what it calls Super Cruise, a suite of SAE Level 2 features that can temporarily take over the vehicle providing certain conditions are met, and the driver stays alert at all times. Think of it as GM’s answer to Tesla’s Autopilot, another system that is by no means “self-driving.” This tech, plus things like infotainment, all operate under the umbrella of what GM calls its vehicle intelligence platform, the underlying hardware architecture.
“Network connectivity is an enabler that complements really well with what GM is doing in terms of its hardware and its software,” Chamorro added.