AT&T Announces $5 Tablet Day Passes, Deal to Power Tesla’s In-Car Wireless

Published on October 17, 2013
by Ina Fried

While consumers are clearly buying tablets in droves, getting them to fork over to connect them to cellular networks has been another story.


Buyers have overwhelmingly chosen Wi-Fi-only models, and, even when buying cellular-capable devices, they aren’t always connecting them to the network.

AT&T is hoping that a new $5-per-day option will convince more customers to try out cellular, perhaps going with that option over hotel Wi-Fi when traveling. Another plan aimed at less-frequent users allows customers to pay $25 for 1 gigabyte of data that can be used any time in a three-month period. The company is talking about the new options publicly for the first time on Thursday at GigaOm’s Mobilize conference in San Francisco.

“We really think that a Wi-Fi only tablet is good, but it is not good enough,” said AT&T senior VP Chris Penrose, speaking at the event. The cost of adding a cellular module to tablets is also going down, Penrose said.

“We’ve seen that price go down substantially over the past several years,” Penrose said. “Ultimately we’d like to see tablet manufacturers build just one tablet.”

Separately, the company is also announcing that electric-car maker Tesla is using AT&T’s wireless network to power in-car diagnostics, infotainment and other services. The deal, though only now being talked about, has been in place for a while.

Earlier this year, GM said it was using AT&T for the next generation of its OnStar service, replacing Verizon.

One thing that AT&T has been working on is the ability to offer different business models in the car, including the ability for the car maker to pay for, say, telemetry data, while customers pay to use their car as a hotspot or for other entertainment features.

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