LTE service for Tesla S

LTE service for Tesla S

I think that 3G issue with a bad signal, quality, performance, you name it, should be resolved ASAP. There are so many complains about 3G service quality. We all know that 3G is already "Yesterday". Today IPhone 5 works in many states on LTE and Internet is flying. TM should finalize their agreement with AT&T and we need to use at least 4G but better LTE service even if we should pay for it. Why should it be free? It's better to pay $ 50 and get what you want than wait for 3 minutes until next page opens

jchangyy | January 15, 2013

I DON't want to pay $50 per month. I'd rather tether my iphone 5 via wifi.

ylyubarsky | January 15, 2013

I still think that quality of service is more important than a few dollars a month for a service

olanmills | January 15, 2013

Yeah, I get could 4G and LTE service around all the places I go, but the 3G service isn't great, and sometimes my car has lost a signal for several minutes.

portia | January 15, 2013

we don't know who Tesla is using as provider, do we?

ylyubarsky | January 15, 2013

Most likely AT&T

jat | January 15, 2013

If you think LTE is going to improve connectivity -- think again. In fact, coverage is much less, but you get faster speeds where you have it. So, if you are downloading huge files on the in-car browser, the extra speed will help.

@portia - AT&T. Personally, AT&T sucks worse than most cell companies around me, and I will be glad when I can put a T-Mobile SIM in once the free period is over.

GLO | January 15, 2013

We plan to tether an IPhone 5 typically.

ylyubarsky | January 15, 2013

The best case scenario would be if the system was unlocked like unlocked phones. People would be able to use their own providers and pay for them separately on their own.

olanmills | January 15, 2013

@jat, in the Puget Sound area (Seattle), AT&T seems to have better 4G and LTE coverage than 3G coverage.

I noticed an improvement in continuous connectivity when I upgrade from a 3G phone to an LTE/4G phone.

Also in my last post, "could" should be "good".

ylyubarsky | January 16, 2013

Everybody knows that Verizon is the best service in USA but I don't think that Verizon is possible to use in Tesla S, so most likely it will be AT&T and as I said before 4G and particularly LTE makes internet 10 times faster than 3G. Those who like T-Mobile we can ask to wait until my request in MUST-HAVE thread of integration of IPhones, IPad, MacBook with Tesla S system comes to life.

ir | January 16, 2013

Has Tesla published the frequency bands that the MS supports? Until recently, T-Mobile was using non-standard frequencies, forcing all iPhones to use 2G EDGE. When it comes to LTE, every carrier seems to be using different frequencies as well (you can't use AT&T LTE from a Verizon iPhone 5 for this reason, and yes the Verizon iPhone 5 has a SIM slot and can otherwise work on AT&T).

May want to think twice about "just swapping SIMs to carrier X" until we know about compatibility.

stevenmaifert | January 17, 2013

This is an uninformed and honest question. Why do we need the speed of 4G LTE? The browser does not support video/audio streaming or file downloads. Web pages might load a little faster, but is that really a problem? After a month with my S on 3G, I'm not having any problems with intermittent Internet radio or long delays with panes loading on Google maps. Do service providers use different cell towers for their 3G and 4G LTE networks such that 4G LTE is more reliable in signal coverage? Just curious.

ir | January 17, 2013

@stevenmaifert I will skip the "is 3G good enough" part and answer the last half.

Because LTE is new, it has less coverage than 3G. In fact, it is so new that you cannot make a phone call over LTE yet, phones fall back to 3G (or sometimes called "4G" to hide this fact) to make calls. It will be a while before LTE "towers" outnumber 3G ones.

Technically, LTE uses different equipment than 3G (and 2G) but the antennas can share the same mast / pole / tower. But not every tower will have LTE overnight, carriers need to buy & upgrade the equipment one tower at a time.

In case you are wondering why voice calls don't use LTE, it is because older technologies had dedicated voice channels separate from data so it was easier to manage call quality over data. Now LTE is data only, using VoIP technology which is a huge switch. Carriers are hesitant to make this switch due to costs and until they have enough coverage to handle voice & data over LTE. Then they still need to convince 3G owners to buy new LTE only phones before they can retire 3G to make room for even more LTE.

Brian H | January 17, 2013

Your digitized voice ... 8 bit version! :D

DouglasR | January 17, 2013


I'm happy enough with 3G. However, the extra large screen on the Model S does mean that the pages load quite slowly compared to my smartphone. It's a little like tethering my laptop to my phone, only worse because the screen is so big.

stevenmaifert | January 17, 2013

Okay guys. Thanks for the tutorial.

drp | January 17, 2013

If you think LTE is going to improve connectivity -- think again. In fact, coverage is much less, but you get faster speeds where you have it. So, if you are downloading huge files on the in-car browser, the extra speed will help.

@portia - AT&T. Personally, AT&T sucks worse than most cell companies around me, and I will be glad when I can put a T-Mobile SIM in once the free period is over.

You got they right jat!,, go with Verizon if there's. choice

markapeterman | January 17, 2013

LTE would solve the issue of google maps loading slowly.

If you teather your phone, you lose the benefits of the smartphone app (unless the car can find a wifi connection where you park).

jchangyy | January 17, 2013

well, do you think we can add MS as a "tablet" on a family share plan for example? Then, it would only be $10/month more for those with family data share plan.

I would have hard time justifying $50/month for 3G connectivity at this time.

tobys1 | January 17, 2013

Somewhere in all this material (pages and pages) I read that the Tegra 3 cpu won't handle 4G and LTE and that Tesla should use the Tegra 4.

Anyone else know anything about this? Is it on the Tesla punch list? Who makes Tegra cpus?

maybe I am just totally off base and misinformed.

Where is the Tesla punch list - i can't find it and, as you know , there's no search on the blogs and forums.

ir | January 17, 2013

@tobys1: Here is an example of a Tegra 3 using LTE:

So I don't think it is a limitation of the CPU. Just a matter of whether Tesla decided to use an LTE capable modem or not.

Put another way, WiFi is way faster than LTE and if the Model S can deal with WiFi, it should have no problems dealing with 4G or LTE.

ylyubarsky | January 20, 2013

Any other ideas, what would be the best for the internet service on Tesla S ?

Robert22 | January 20, 2013

@ jat-

When you say "you can put a T-mobile SIM in" do you mean the car or your phone? There is still that intriguing early review where the journalist referred to the car as having a swappable SIM. Anyone heard anymore about this?

steven.addis | January 28, 2013

This weekend, I drove a client's family around the Bay Area to help them find a neighborhood to move to (moving up from SoCal). We relied heavily on the map function but it was either way too slow or just a blank screen. This is someone who would potentially consider a model S. But after that experience, I doubt it. So frustrating. We had to use our tiny phones in front of this giant blank screen on the dash.

I called Tesla Ownership and they just point to the cell network as the culprit. But that's the point. If the car could have toggled over to 4G or LTE (as my iPhone does), there would have been no problem. And, if there's a hope for an upgrade, it will be a hardware solution (the car is not wired for it!). Our reality will be that us early adopters will be stuck with horrible 3G service. Basically, an iPhone 4 forever.

dmunjal | January 28, 2013

Once Wi-Fi is enabled, we don't need to use 3G anymore and can tether to any service we want. I'm waiting for it so I can switch over to my LTE-enabled smartphone or even my LTE hotspot.

You are not stuck forever.

DanD | January 28, 2013

Blaming a cell network for a terrible navigation system is the height of backwards.

prash.saka | January 28, 2013

At the risk of sounding ignorant, why do you need this 3G or 4G coverage? Is it for just software upgrades, browsing, and may be GPS?

~ Prash.

dmunjal | January 28, 2013

Software upgrades, browing, future remote services, and Google Maps on the large screen use the Internet. Today it is 3G, soon it will be WiFi which opens to door to other connectivity options.

nickjhowe | January 28, 2013

@steven.addis - AT&T 3G sucks in the bay area. I visit once a month and my iPhone is almost unusable inside buildings and often drops calls outside. I feel for you.

jpeterman | January 28, 2013

The solution to the GPS issue is not network speed, as that is always going to be a variable. Google uses caching in Android and pre-pulls your route into cache. Google mapping also lets you pre-cache an entire area - only limited by your storage.

This would be an easy to implement solution and effectively end these kind of mapping issues.

fluxemag | January 28, 2013

I plan on tethering to my verizon LTE phone via wifi. Yes, you will lose the smartphone app if you don't have the car connected to an alternate source of connectivity while you are away. I don't think that will be a huge problem.

schoendp | January 28, 2013

Tesla has stated that you will soon (debate what soon means) be able to download google maps into the car's cache and it will pull up the map regardless of whether you have 3G service or not. Therefore, losing the signal regarding seeing the maps will eventually be a non-issue. However, the traffic function, search, etc. would still be hampered by a loss of 3G service.

TeslaJoe | January 28, 2013

Randy in the service dept. in Menlo Park said there will be a 4g module which can be easily swapped with the current 3g module. Don't know when it will be available though.

garyrudolph | January 28, 2013

For those on 3G vs LTE have you ever used AT&T 3G and gone to Verizon LTE with a laptop or iPad? It's huge the difference in download performance (at least in Los Angeles where the LTE coverage is quite good on Verizon). It's analagous when the iPhone from Edge to 3G.

Frankly one main attraction is the browser in the car, but I wouldn't use it without LTE tethered or preferably upgraded in the car.

jchangyy | January 28, 2013

I live in the Bay area and I'm with AT&T. coverage sucks inside the buildings, but that's not a major issue unless you're inside a parking structure. also, their 3G speed sucks, but their LTE and 4G* speeds aren't that bad on my iphone 5 when I'm outside or in my house.

We just need wifi tethering so I can use my phone (I have a family share plan). I use it all the time for my laptop/ipad and works a lot of data though.

Steve_W | January 28, 2013

It has been reported over at teslamotorsclub that the sim is hardwired in. If that is the case, you will not be able to install a T-Mobile sim.

fiksegts2 | January 28, 2013

The Model S desperately needs LTE, a car this advanced with 3G? it's embarrassing, everyone I show the car to asks why it's so slow loading everything.... moving from the 3g to LTE on the iphone5 in south florida was an amazing difference....

ylyubarsky | January 29, 2013

The Model S desperately needs LTE, a car this advanced with 3G? it's embarrassing!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well said!!!!!!!

tobys1 | January 29, 2013

My wife and i both use Verizon. For some time I was on AT&T and she was on Verizon. The AT&T service constantly underperformed. Whatever their boastful advertising say, At&T offers a second rate service in our neighborhood (Berkeley, near SF).

I read in the forum that the NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor is used in the Model S. The writer suggested that the Tegra 3 can't handle 4G or LTE. Any truth in that? Is TM going to start using the faster Tegra 4?

HansJ | January 29, 2013

@tobys1 - The Tegra 3 processor has absolutely nothing to do with communications so it is agnostic to 4G or LTE or WiFi or anything else. Communications are in a separate module that I am sure can be replaced and upgraded in the future.

steven.addis | January 29, 2013 Please explain how wi-fi will allow us to tether from our phones.

dmunjal | January 29, 2013


Once they turn on wi-fi, it will be able to attach to any wi-fi access point. Say in your house while the car is in the garage. Your smartphone can also mimic the behavior of an access point with the personal hotspot feature. Both iPhone and Android support this as do Verizon and ATT.

The point is that the car will not know the difference when it is connected to your home wi-fi or your phone.

This is assuming that the car allows multiple profiles, not only one.

BorisT | January 30, 2013

Loads of faulty assumptions here.
LTE connectivity is far faster, but it is NOT a software upgrade but rather a new baseband chipset. So it's unlikely to be upgraded for us and unless they designed the modem module in an upgradeable manner. Also the issue of coverage is not a significant issue. LTE chipsets are typically multimode, meaning they will fall back to 3G standards (e.g. UMTS) and all the way down to 2G (e.g. EDGE). So coverage is not an issue. Also the comment about LTE being in its infancy not being used for voice - not quite accurate. LTE today, just like all the 3G standards, is used for data only. Their is a future version of the standard (named VOLTE - voice over LTE) which will handle voice communications. But meanwhile the voice is still on GSM or CDMA.

Bottom line - i wouldn't hold out hope that we would be able to upgrade to a newer baseband. But if Tesla did design it to be upgradeable - COLOR me impressed!

derek | January 30, 2013

Tegra chips are smartphone processors made by Nvidia. Nvidia can bundle it with a 4G HSPA+ cellular modem.

Tesla likes Tegra chips because Nvidia's strength is in graphic processing and fast response on the touchscreen.

But Tegra 3 was limited because it is not made with LTE on the chipset. In most cases, smartphone makers who used the Tegra 3 swapped it out for the Qualcomm S4 in the US, because the US is ahead in LTE network deployments, and we want LTE phones. The dual core S4 is neck-and-neck as fast as the Tegra 3. In some rare cases like the HTC One X+, HTC opted to bundle the Tegra 3 with a Qualcomm LTE modem. This increases cost and power consumption and space requirements a bit because it is no longer a single chipset. But those three factors (cost, power, space) don't matter much in a Tesla S. I think that no good LTE solution was available when they designed that element of the first Model S. I expect they will upgrade sometime soon on future models.

The Tegra 4 was announced at CES this month, has LTE on the chipset, in the form of Nvidia's Icera 500 modem. It also has MUCH better power and graphics performance.

So...long story short. Soon Wi-Fi will be enabled. For those current Model S owners who don't want to be limited by the decent 3G, then can get an LTE MiFi (or other portable hotspot), add it to their family plan, and connect their Tesla to the mobile LTE hotspot.

HansJ | January 31, 2013

@BorisT - I too hope you and I will be impressed to find that Tesla made the modem module (likely w/ Icera baseband radio chipset) upgradable. It is possible that these chips are physically on a much larger module with the WiFi, RFID, bluetooth, and other logic, and therfore would be more expensive to upgrade as a whole unit. I would still expect to be able to upgrade. The fact that you can reboot the dashboard and console independently says to me that at least these two systems are likely independent modules despite both using Tegra 3 processors.

DougR | January 31, 2013

I sent an e-mail to TM and was told that if I bring along my LTE "hotspot" the car would connect to WiFi - then use LTE to the net. I travel with my LTE hotspot so the kids have hi-speed Internet connectivity on the tablets. LTE coverage is fabulous in every major city I go. Hopefully my Model S will never even need to use the 3G built in, and I should not have to pay for it in addition to my LTE service.

Scheduled to receive car mid-February...

jat | January 31, 2013

@Robert42 - GSM is based on having a SIM, the only question is would it be easily accessible.

What I hope for is being able to put my own SIM in the car rather than being forced to pay for a separate AT&T data service.

DonS | January 31, 2013

The people designing these cars are designing something they would like to keep a long time. Telco standards are not long term. Of course it is upgradeable. Now when and for how much, that's the real question.

alextheukrainian | April 11, 2013

@steven.addis - in addition to wifi tethering, the car will also have Offline mode for the Maps feature so you won't have to stay connected to use them. That's coming soon, although not confirmed when exactly yet.

David Trushin | April 11, 2013

Verixon has some neat mobile hotspots that you can add to your verizon data plan and leave in the car. That way you can get LTE, Verizon, and not have to buy a new data plan. That's my data plan BTW once we get wifi.