GENERAL Motors will begin offering 4G-equipped cars in the US next year after striking a partnership deal with telecoms giant AT&T.
The faster mobile data speed will first be available in most 2015 model year vehicles in the US and Canada.
"We're making a global commitment to embed 4G LTE [long-term evolution] mobile broadband across all of our vehicles," said Mary Chan, president of GM's Global Connected Consumer division.
"This is the largest commercial deployment of 4G LTE services in the auto industry."
The move marks an evolution for GM's OnStar unit, which has 6 million subscribers in the US and Canada for its in-car communication service. The Detroit-based carmaker traditionally emphasised OnStar's operators while other automakers have developed programs that used onboard navigating systems with video screens or systems that piggybacked off connections with smart phones.
GM's OnStar operator-emphasis strategy is changing with the introduction of new telematic systems in Cadillac and Chevrolet and Monday's announcement.
"This is a big deal," said Thilo Koslowski, an industry analyst with Gartner. "They want to actually have embedded connectivity in their connected vehicles rather than relying on a mobile phone . . . that's a pretty big shift in terms of where other vehicle manufacturers are today."
LTE is a higher speed, fourth-generation wireless technology compared with 3G. AT&T, Verizon Communications, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA are adding LTE to their networks. LTE allows mobile users to load videos and stream music as much as 10 times faster than 3G. With 4G, GM said it could include in-vehicle Wi-Fi hot spots, streaming videos and faster application downloads.
"This enables them to actually have the capabilities to support all kinds of innovative services and needs that consumers may evolve or may desire in the future by having this technology available," Mr Koslowski said.
"We think telematics will be a $1 billion business for AT&T," said Glenn Lurie, head of emerging businesses at AT&T Mobility. "Moving forward with GM and OnStar is a big step in that direction."