AT&T says it has made connected-car deal with undisclosed global automaker

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TOKYO (Bloomberg) -- AT&T Inc., the largest U.S. phone company, said it reached a deal with a global automaker to add to its ranks of customers looking to bring connectivity to cars.

The carmaker, based outside Asia, will have vehicles using AT&T’s wireless services in markets including China in a matter of weeks, said Joe Mosele, an AT&T vice president for devices including connected autos. He declined to name the automaker.

“It was a big win for AT&T,” Mosele said today in an interview in Tokyo. The company said in October that Tesla Motors Inc. chose its high-speed wireless service, adding to deals with General Motors Co. for models across its lineup and another for Volkswagen AG’s Audi A3.

Automakers are competing for drivers looking to be connected while in their vehicles. Technology to do that is the top selling point for 39 percent of auto buyers, more than twice the 14 percent who say their first consideration is traditional performance measures such as power and speed, according to a study consulting firm Accenture released in December.

AT&T said last year that all Tesla cars would come equipped with its network chips, which allow two-way connections for services such as roadside assistance and stolen-vehicle location. The Tesla service also would include Internet access, navigation and entertainment on a 17-inch touch screen. Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.

Also last year, GM’s OnStar announced a partnership with AT&T to offer 4G LTE wireless service in 2015 vehicles in the United States and Canada, and the carrier said Audi’s 2015 A3 would become the first car to offer a high-speed connection, with a monthly subscription fee of $16.50.

GM will release pricing details for 4G LTE in the coming months. The automaker will offer a trial period, similar to how it provides the OnStar service to customers before a subscription is required, Mosele said.

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