General Motors will be remolding its OnStar service as a provider of high-speed connectivity to vehicles, loaded with a portfolio of infotainment features. The revised service will commence this summer on some vehicles as a package of infotainment apps, with current safety and security features still available. OnStar will also offer a Wi-Fi hot spot, streaming radio, vehicle diagnostics, weather reports and other apps through a high-speed 4G LTE data connection as provided by AT&T.
"It will be introduced on everything from entry-level hatches to Silverados," said Tim Nixon, OnStar's chief technology officer, during a Dec. 11, 2013 presentation for journalists. Nixon said that the connected features will be fitted first on the Chevrolet Corvette, Impala, Malibu and Volt, which will get 4G LTE this summer.
Next on the list are the Equinox, Silverado, Spark and Spark EV. GM will also install 4G LTE connectivity on vehicles for Buick, GMC and Cadillac, although the carmaker has yet to confirm a launch date for those brands.
Covered nameplates will feature Wi-Fi connectivity for up to seven mobile devices, allowing passengers to download videos onto their tablets and surf the Internet as well as download apps from an online GM store without charge, although they have to pay for connectivity. Mary Chan, president of GM's global connected consumer unit, recently said that GM would offer flexible pricing plans to its customers.
OnStar was established in 1996 as a collaboration between GM, Hughes Electronics Corp. and Electronic Data Systems. It was formally launched by GM North America Operations President Rick Wagoner at the 1996 Chicago Auto Show. OnStar delivered its first product and service in the fall of 1996 for 1997 models of Cadillac DeVille, Cadillac Seville and Cadillac Eldorado models. Starting 2002, the OnStar service was made available -- via a licensing agreement -- on vehicles from Acura, Isuzu, Subaru and Volkswagen.
In April 2006, GM notified around 500,000 OnStar customers who had analog service that their service would be terminated on December 31, 2007. This is because the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would no longer require US cell phone systems to operate in analog mode starting February 18, 2008.
In September 2010, OnStar relaunched its brand through a series of commercials with the theme of "Live On." Chief Marketing Officer Sam Mancuso remarked that the campaign was intended to change people’s perception of OnStar.
In December 2011, OnStar joined Verizon Wireless to offer video chat and streaming content to automotive passengers.