(WIRED) — Ford is making its cars into mobile Wi-Fi hot spots.
The next generation of the Sync in-car entertainment and information system will use a USB mobile broadband modem to establish a secure wireless connection capable of supporting several devices simultaneously.
The system will be available next year on selected models — no word yet which ones — and you won’t need a subscription or hardware beyond the modem.
“While you’re driving to grandma’s house, your spouse can be finishing the holiday shopping and the kids can be chatting with friends and updating their Facebook profiles,” said Mark Fields, Ford president of the Americas. “And you’re not paying for yet another mobile subscription or piece of hardware because Ford will let you use technology you already have.”
Several automakers already offer in-car Internet access — Japanese drivers have been using it since 1997 — and many others are rushing to bring it to us. Ford’s announcement follows General Motors’ promise last week to make in-car connectivity available in seven models of trucks and SUVs. They’re the latest automakers to bring the infobahn to the autobahn.
Mercedes recently announced it has successfully tested in-vehicle Internet applications — including web browsing, vehicle software updates and VOIP — on a prototype 4G network. It follows BMW’s Internet-connected iDrive system and Chrysler’s Uconnect Web in-vehicle mobile hotspot. With so many automakers getting in on the action, there’s a push to introduce hardware standards.