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Given how long and boring a car ride can be, it wouldn’t hurt to have Wi-Fi onboard. Along with streaming playlists and jamming to their beats, you can watch a show or movie, or if you’re so inclined, play a game. It really improves the quality of your journey and puts everyone in a good mood—so definitely worth considering, especially now that it is more easily accessible than ever before.

Having ready internet access available on the go is a game-changer. And realizing this, many car manufacturers have been working to incorporate the feature into their automobile lines. Most newer models in the market now come equipped with a car Wi-Fi hotspot. So for those of you looking for a new car to ride, access to in-car Wi-Fi shouldn’t be a problem at all. But then again, you don’t need to upgrade your car to get this feature, rather you can get it installed with relative ease.

Here, we’ll discuss what you need to know about accessing the internet in a car so buckle up! By the end of this article, you’ll have the information you need to take your commute to a whole new level.

Is in-Car Wi-Fi Different from a Mobile Hotspot?

The one question you’re sure to be asking yourself is how is the in-car Wi-Fi different from a mobile hotspot? After all, how else can you get internet in the car, right?

Well, the thing is, it’s not all that different. Your in-car Wi-Fi does indeed use the data from a wireless mobile broadband provider, and essentially creates a hotspot that everyone in the car can use—quite like when you turn on the mobile hotspot feature on your smartphone. However, the mobile hotspot device you use for the purpose is not exactly the same, because if it is to deliver reliable and fast in-car Wi-Fi, it must take into account a few factors.

Cars are constantly moving and while your phone has a built-in mechanism to handle changes in mobile connectivity, that does not mean connected devices will experience the same quality of connection. A device connected via the mobile hotspot feature of your smartphone may not be able to benefit from the same fast speed as the cell phone itself. That is why in-car Wi-Fi hotspots use strategically placed antennae, making it possible for connected devices to receive a stable signal. Compared to the small built-in antenna of a cell phone which may not be able to deliver sustained signal strength as the vehicle moves, mobile hotspots made for accessing the internet in the car can provide a stronger wireless signal to connect every passenger.

Still not convinced? Well, here are more reasons why you should take the plunge and get the device built for the purpose rather than making a mobile hotspot out of your cell phone:

Now, that should convince you about getting in-car Wi-Fi for your family, right? Just think of all the road trips you can take without all those disruptions and distractions!

Want to know how exactly to go about it? Read on, you’ll find the next section helpful.

How to Get Wi-Fi in Your Car

As you must have gathered by now, if you want in-car Wi-Fi there are two ways you can go about it. Either you get a brand new car that comes with the feature built into it. Or install the required equipment and set it up in your existing vehicle.

Cars with Built-in Wi-Fi

For those looking to get a new car that offers built-in Wi-Fi equipment here’s a list of manufacturers which offer service-ready cars:

·Acura MDX

·Audi A3

·BMW 7 & 5 Series

·Buick Encore & Enclave

·Cadillac Escalade,

·Chevrolet Cruz, Malibu, Sonic, Spark, Trax

·Chrysler 200

·Dodge Dart

·Ford Escape, Expedition

·Honda Pilot, Odyssey, Accord, Civic, CR-V, Insight, Passport

·Infiniti InTouch & QX80

·Volkswagen Atlas

·Lexus RX, Enform

·Tesla

·Jaguar F-Pace, E-Pace, I-Pace, F-Type, XE, XF, XJ

·Jeep Cherokee, Grand Cherokee

·Land Rover

·Lincoln Navigator, Aviator

·Nissan Rogue, Altima, Titan, Sentra, Maxima

·Mercedes Benz C-Class, GLS

·Subaru Forester, Impreza, Crosstrek, Legacy

·Toyota Camry, Corolla, Prius C, Rav4, Yaris

·Porsche Cayman GT4, Spyder, Taycan, Panamera

·Volvo V40, V70, XC70, S80

 

That’s a pretty impressive list right? With almost every renowned car manufacturer offering in-car Wi-Fi by integrating various high-tech platforms into their vehicles, there is a ton of options to choose from if it is time for you to switch vehicles. Of course, not all models from these manufacturers offer the internet in the car feature, but with the passage of time, it is bound to become part of lower-end models as well—after all the automobile industry began to catch up with changes on the horizon of wireless connectivity over 5 years ago—with Tesla being the only one offering Standard Connectivity on all cars. 

How to Add the “Internet in Car” Feature  

With all the talk of new cars hitting the market with built-in “internet in the car” feature, it sure is tempting to quit on your older model, but you shouldn’t have to buy a whole new car for Wi-Fi really. And luckily you don’t have to. You can get in-car Wi-Fi by installing the right equipment to start with. It takes some time and effort but can be worth the while.   

The OBD-II Plug-in

Cars in the U.S. have had the OBD-II port since 1996—it serves as the connection used for a computer diagnostic. And it’s about time you put the one in yours to good use. Just get the required device to plugin and you’ll be set.

AT&T is a great choice in this regard for all the right reasons. The provider offers the AT&T ZTE Mobley™—a vehicle Wi-Fi hotspot plug-in device—that you can just stick into the OBD-II port in your car and you’ll be set to experience a stable and fast in-car Wi-Fi network on up to 10 devices. AT&T also offers practical plans to power the device. And, given the coverage provided by the AT&T Wireless network, you’ll have great service from coast to coast. Sure it’s an additional cost you’ll have to bear but when your kids are preoccupied with their online activities and you get some silence on your way you’ll feel glad you made the investment.

So, where is this magical port located? Well, check towards the left of your steering column underneath the dash and you’ll find it there—most vehicles carry it in this spot, but some may have it behind a latch or underneath a protective cover. It’s pretty simple to find it anyway.

Installing a Wireless Router

Another route you can take is installing a wireless router in your vehicle. It’ll cost more than an OBD II device, and will not be as portable either, but the improved connection will more than makeup for the spending. You don’t need to plug it into anything—the cellular radio is stronger than what you get with a mobile hotspot device, and so is the in-car Wi-Fi expected to be. The best part is with a wireless router in your car, you’ll be able to hook up your laptop even via USB or Ethernet. Pretty cool, right?

Internet Providers Offering in-Car Wi-Fi

Once you’ve got the equipment sorted, you’ll need a mobile plan to power up the car Wi-Fi hotspot. Luckily there are quite a few options in the market. Cellular service providers like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon all offer in-car Wi-Fi plans designed for delivering internet in the car. You’re sure to find one that fits your requirements and budget.

One thing you need to bear in mind is it makes things simpler when you put together your in-car Wi-Fi and the cellular service plan under the same roof. Plus, it must be a provider which gives you coverage across the U.S., because after all, a long commute is where you need this feature the most. Check with your current provider and if you so wish browse through the AT&T car Wi-Fi plans as well as AT&T Wireless for quality service you can depend on anywhere in the US.  

If you don’t need a sustained subscription to an in-car Wi-Fi plan and would rather pay-as-you-go during a summer road trip, you may just be able to find one such option available to you as well.

Final Words

While you can certainly live without Wi-Fi in the car, there’s no denying having reliable internet in the car makes the ride more enjoyable and peaceful to say the least. Whether you are alone on the road or joined by family, your trip goes smooth. For people with the feature built-in their car, it’s even less of a hassle. All they need is a subscription to in-car Wi-Fi and they are good to go. Maybe the next time you lease a car, you can do some research checking for its Wi-Fi capability.  

 A word of caution, however, having Wi-Fi in a car opens you to cyber-attacks. So, make sure you don’t send any sensitive information over the connection, like bank details and passwords, or else use a VPN to add a layer of security.  

Frequently Asked Questions

If I have a built-in Wi-Fi feature in my car, do I have to pay for Wi-Fi?

You may have the in-car Wi-Fi capability but that doesn’t mean the service will be free. You’ll have to subscribe to a cellular service provider and pay for the data you use. If you want to cut costs, you can always go for the most value-packed plan on offer. Check out AT&T car Wi-Fi plans are pretty lucrative especially if you pair them with AT&T Wireless.

Can I get Wi-Fi without internet?

Well, technically you can’t. You will need to have a subscription to an internet provider’s plan to establish an in-home Wi-Fi network or have Wi-Fi in the car. If you want to get Wi-Fi connectivity without subscribing to an internet provider, the only way you can do that is by accessing a free public Wi-Fi hotspot. Or check your luck by running a scan for open networks in the vicinity. But remember this is not the most secure way of getting connected to Wi-Fi.

Can I add the Wi-Fi feature to my car?

If your car doesn’t come with this feature built-in, the OBD-II port combined with a plug-in OBD-II device should be able to get you started. You can also get a wireless router installed in your car, and use Wi-Fi in the car with ease.