Connected Teslas

Tesla is updating the terms of its in-car Internet service. Existing Teslas will keep free “premium” cellular connectivity indefinitely. New Teslas will receive free “standard” connectivity, and one year of “premium” connectivity, with the option of paying for ongoing premium connectivity.

That is all fine, as far as it goes, and frankly it seems like a nice benefit of owning a Tesla. It’s not too hard to switch my mobile phone into hotspot mode nowadays, but it runs down the phone battery and it’s just nice to hop in the car and have WiFi connectivity, without having to think about it.

What I really wonder, though, when Teslas will start talking to each other. As fas as I know, Teslas are not equipped with DSRC transponders, which is the communications technology that high-end Cadillacs now use to communicate amongst themselves.

There is a lively debate in the connected car community over whether the future of vehicle-to-vehicle communication is peer-to-peer networking via DSRC, or cloud connectivity via the Internet.

The main advantage of cloud connectivity is that it’s easier to bootstrap — cars can begin talking with each other via the Internet, even if they’re not very physically close. The main disadvantage is the cost of cellular data connectivity.

Tesla is already covering the cost of “standard” data connectivity for all its customers, and I hope at some point soon they start to test out how helpful that can be for vehicle-to-vehicle communication.

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