2010 to see drive for WiFi on wheels

Ford has become the latest car maker to promise in-car WiFi Internet access for its vehicles in 2010 - but it will trump automotive rivals Chrysler and GM by allowing drivers to plug their own mobile broadband modems from Internet service providers (ISPs) of their choice into the system.

The car maker’s existing in car system - called Sync - is designed to let drivers and passengers plug-in smart phones, MP3 players, and USB sticks, to display contact lists, and play music and videos; but it does not offer Internet connectivity.

Chrysler first introduced in car WiFi equipment delivered by ISP Autonet in 2009, with GM set to follow in 2010. Peugeot has also announced that it will put WiFi routers that use third generation (3G) cellular technology as a backhaul into its cars in 2010.

Drivers can also install their own Autonet WiFi routers into vehicles, available at various retail outlets including Amazon, but are tied to the Autonet service. In-car Wifi systems are intended to allow vehicle passengers - rather than drivers - to access the Internet, using WiFi enabled devices while on the move, in much the same way that many rail passengers already do.
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