German carmaker Audi has begun selling cars with in-built LTE connectivity across Europe and it plans to introduce the technology into US vehicles next spring.
The 4G technology is now available in the Audi S3 Sportback and will be introduced into other vehicles in the manufacturer’s premium compact range in November.
According to the GigaOm website, the company also plans to release an LTE-equipped version of its A3 Sedan in the US market, but not until spring 2014.
Audi (Ingolstadt, Germany) claims to be the first carmaker to fully integrate LTE technology into a production vehicle.
It notes that while LTE technology is currently available on a “relatively small scale” in the UK, it is set for widespread rollout over the next few months, with Vodafone (Newbury, UK) and Telefonica UK (Slough, UK) joining EE (Hatfield, UK) in the country’s nascent 4G market.
GigaOm claims that European customers will be able to sign up for in-car LTE services with a range of operators after installing data SIM cards in the vehicle, but that customers in the US will likely be tied to a specific service provider on account of the fact that operators are using different frequency bands to provide LTE services.
General Motors (Detroit, MI, USA) appears to be pursuing plans to make an LTE service provided by AT&T (Dallas, TX, USA) a standard feature of its vehicles from 2015, while BMW (Munich, Germany) has been touting an LTE connectivity service in partnership with Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany).
Audi says customers will be able to use a variety of bandwidth-hungry services over the LTE connection, including video streaming in HD quality.
The technology will also be used to provide navigation and online traffic information services to vehicle drivers.
“A suitable SIM card with a data flat rate simply needs to be inserted into the appropriate slot in the glovebox of the Audi S3 Sportback,” said Audi in a statement. “When the passengers connect their mobile end devices to the WLAN hotspot integrated into the car, they can surf the web independently of one another.”