Wifi in cars is widely discussed as the promised land for Internet radio, but what will it take and how much will it cost the consumer? Chrysler started selling cars with in-car wifi access and therefore in-car internet radio access in August. But anyone can purchase the router for their car and subscribe to the service directly from Autonet Mobile. The cost is $499 for the router and a $29 per month ISP subscription fee. Once installed, your car is its own wifi hotspot.
These costs are about twice the cost of putting a satellite radio in your car and paying that monthly subscription fee. My guess is that this spells more bad news for satellite radio, as I assume that consumers will choose internet access in their car, which allows browsing, gaming (for kids, not drivers), directions, and internet radio as well as other things. But it’s worth noting that satellite radio’s limited success is often attributed to the cost of dedicated hardware and subscription fees.
Internet radio in cars will not be free. To listen, you can buy a Jeep or other Chrysler car, add on the hotspot service, which Chrysler calls Mopar, but is also known as Autonet Mobile, or get the router installed and bring along your laptop to stream your favorite station. Great – but maybe a little involved, costly, and cumbersome at this stage.
In-car wifi may be a tipping point for internet radio, but it will have to come with greater ease of use than the current technology. We can see it with binoculars on the horizon, but we’re not there yet.