T-Mobile on Thursday took a step into the connected car space and lobbed a direct shot at Verizon with the introduction of its new SyncUp DRIVE solution.
According to T-Mobile, the new device was developed in collaboration with ZTE and Mojio. SyncUP DRIVE is an “all-in-one solution” that turns a user’s vehicle into a hotspot on wheels and offers driving analysis, vehicle tracking, and maintenance diagnostics, the carrier added.
Starting November 18, the T-Mobile said it will offer SyncUP DRIVE free with a 24-month finance agreement and a 2 GB or higher mobile Internet plan. The device will carry a normal retail price of $149.99, the carrier said.
“With T-Mobile SyncUP DRIVE, you have a new way to ride on America’s fastest nationwide 4G LTE network,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere said. “We’re making it radically simple for customers to connect their cars with a complete, all-in-one package – and the best part is that we’re making it totally free at launch.”
Like other plug-in devices, the solution fits into the on-board diagnostics port of a user’s car and should fit most vehicles built after 1996. The device will feature always-on connectivity without the need for charging, T-Mobile said.
Via their smartphone, SyncUP DRIVE users will be able to view a driving analysis, track business miles, know the location and status of other cars on the family system, locate their own vehicle in a parking lot, and have access to a virtual mechanic and maintenance reminders to help take better care of their car. SyncUP Drive will also serve as a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot for up to five devices, T-Mobile said.
The device appears to be a direct challenger to Verizon’s own hum connected car solution, also a plug in that offers vehicle diagnostics and notifications right on a user’s smartphone as well as access to emergency services via a visor clip on. AT&T, too, offers plug-in solutions from Mobley and Audiovox, but also offers direct connections with capable vehicles from partners like Audi, Buick, Chevrolet, Jaguar, Land Rover, Porsche, and Volvo.
Unlike SnycUP DRIVE and AT&T’s Mobley solution, though, Verizon’s hum doesn’t function as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
It’s no surprise, though, that T-Mobile is looking to make more moves in the Internet of Things space.
Over the past eight quarters, AT&T said it has added more connected devices than postpaid and prepaid subscribers combined. As of the close of the third quarter, the carrier said it had 30.3 million connected devices – including 10.5 million connected cars – on its network.
Similarly, Verizon has been working on its own IoT segment, more or less steadily increasing revenues from $150 million in the first quarter of 2015 to $250 million in the second quarter 2016 and collecting a slew of IoT and telematics solutions companies via its recent acquisitions of Telogis, Fleetmatics, and Sensity Systems.
Back in 2014, T-Mobile sought to alleviate roaming costs with an eSIM product for IoT and M2M developers, and in September made a play to woo IoT customers impacted by AT&T’s 2G network shutdown.
It seems the Un-carrier is now moving to grab a larger share of the IoT pie, which Gartner forecasted will include 20.8 billion connected devices by 2020.