General Motors and AT&T have partnered to equip GM vehicles with 5G cellular connectivity, starting with the 2024 model year.
The capability, enhanced from the current 4G LTE offering, will improve roadway coverage, speed up music and video downloads, make over-the-air updates faster and more secure and speed up navigation, mapping and voice services, AT&T and GM said in a joint statement Thursday.
The 5G network is run on a smarter and safer platform than 4G LTE, AT&T said, and the collaboration, which also includes Microsoft services, will begin to establish the foundation for enhanced autonomous-driving technology, the companies said.
The 5G connectivity will launch on 2024 model-year vehicles. Previous model years will be able to upgrade to 5G via an over-the-air update, GM said.
"As an in-vehicle connectivity leader, this rollout demonstrates our commitment to growth through software-enabled services and reimagining every customer touch point by enabling faster connectivity speeds to power in-vehicle voice-enabled services, navigation and apps that our customers have grown to love," Santiago Chamorro, GM vice president of global connected services, said in the statement.
Since the in-vehicle launch of AT&T's 4G LTE in 2014, GM customers have used more than 171 million gigabytes of data, which is equivalent to nearly 5.7 billion hours of music streaming or more than 716 million hours of video streaming.
Other companies have added 5G to vehicles, which allows customers to download more data faster than 4G LTE, said Mike Ramsey, a senior analyst at Gartner.
"The biggest part of this is GM's commitment to put it across their entire lineup," he said.
The 5G network, along with Microsoft's cloud services, will serve as a strong base as GM advances its technology, such as the Super Cruise hands-free driver-assist system and Vehicle Intelligence Platform.
It will also provide broader scale for future mobility services, such as e-commerce, the companies said.
"By connecting millions of GM vehicles to our nationwide 5G network, we will improve the customer experience for existing services while laying the groundwork for the next wave of innovation including autonomous driving," Gregory Wieboldt, senior vice president of global business, industry solutions at AT&T, said in the statement. "We now connect more vehicles than any other carrier, and GM has played a critical role in our success."
Ford made a similar move in 2019, planning to equip its lineup with 5G modems by 2022 to supplement driver-assist systems.