Data plan announced?

Data plan announced?

With the first cars being delivered I still have yet to see anything about the data plan and pricing in the car. I think one of the news stories mentioned 3G which was surprising but they did say pages loaded slowly in the car.

jbunn | June 22, 2012

They will announce a carrier, or perhaps a technology, and the data plan will be yours to negotiate, I imagine. Idealy like an XM ready radio, you pick your receiver from any compatable vendor, and plug it in, and off you go. I think most of the major carriers make 4g sticks on the USB standard. That would be nice if you ever move or want to change provider.

jbunn | June 22, 2012

Was just reading the Motor Trend article, and the author states the car has a SIM slot. That implies that the car uses GSM technology, which should make our international users very happy. In the US, the GSM standard is used by AT&T, T-Mobile, and a number of smaller carriers. Based on long experience with the company, I'd recommend T-Mobile, but your actual mileage may vary. You can check the list below for GSM carriers.

Robert22 | June 23, 2012

The review stated that the SIM card was "built-in". How than would one exchange an ATT SiM card for a T-mobile SIM? What if the card is one of the newer smaller SIMs? Anyone have clarification on this? I really don't want to be dealing with yet another carrier. Thanks- Rob

Robert22 | June 24, 2012

Update: 3G is confirmed GSM. Tethering would sem to be a viable option if one chooses to avoid another carrier plan. I guess those with grandfathered unlimited data plans are pretty excited right now.

Brian H | June 25, 2012

I'm confused. Elon specified several times in the SH meeting that all Model S cars would have 4G. Did he mean soon, but not yet? Or did he misspeak?

Volker.Berlin | June 25, 2012

Possibly the car supports 4G but if there is only 3G coverage available, the connection is only 3G, obviously.

Designtime | June 25, 2012

I am guessing AT&T, but I would also love to know what frequencies are supported. It would be great to be able to get 3-4G speeds from AT&T or T-Mobile sims.

Electric Machete | June 25, 2012

How solid is the info on the ability to tether? I do have a grandfathered unlimited AT&T data plan and a jailbroken iPhone. I was hoping to see the capability to tether. Any idea if it would be over bluetooth, wifi, or USB? I have only heard rumors about tethering capability.

Volker.Berlin | June 25, 2012

Since the Model S can log into any Wifi hotspot, you will definitely be able to use the hotspot that your phone provides.

Brian H | June 25, 2012

Bluetooth is enabled. Sounds like a match!

Electric Machete | June 26, 2012

Thank you Volker. I didn't realize that the Model S could log into WiFi. I haven't seen all that much information on the connectivity capabilities of the Model S.

Anyone else think that 1 year of free connectivity provided to the Signature holders just sprang out of the lack of any clear provider options/contracts? Still no one can say how the S would access the interwebs.

Robert22 | June 26, 2012

Tethering capability was actually mentioned by a Tesla rep. Can't comment on presence or absence of 4G.

Is there a tethering option over 2G (Edge) for a T-mobile user or would I need to jailbreak my iphone? Does the car even support 2G? I realize I'd be dealing with glacial network speeds but it would still be sufficient for email and pre-entry climate control.

Verizon users would seem to be in the catbird seat. They can fire up the free personal hotspot included with their iphone as long as they monitor data usage if they're not on unlimited data plan.

jbunn | June 26, 2012

If it supports 4g, it supports 3, 2, and 1 G. All backward compatable. The speed of course is the issue.

ggr | June 27, 2012

@jbunn, I'm afraid that's not correct. Most chipsets support all or some range of the standards, but the generations are not remotely similar at the radio level. 1G was, of course, analog radio, and is almost never supported any more by advanced chips. 2G, GSM (I'm ignoring CDMA2000 in this posting) is Time Division Multiple Access, where the phones are allocated time slots in which to transmit. 3G, UMTS and HSPA+, are wideband Code Division Multiple Access. 4G, LTE, is Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access. In the latter two, all devices transmit at the same time on the same frequency, and use different techniques to sort out the signals from each other.

But the point of my posting, I guess, is that there are an increasing number of chips and service providers who are trying to move to "Single mode LTE", that is, chips with no backward compatibility at all, especially for telematics applications.

At the moment, 4G implies 3G, but that's because the LTE networks are not widely enough deployed to be useful yet, so no-one builds devices that are LTE-only.

cybercop | July 15, 2012

Tesla unofficially confirmed that AT&T is the wireless provider they are currently using for the data plan during my test drive.

During the pre-drive gathering, a rep would only confirm it was GSM. I said "so it's AT&T" and he replied "it could be T-Mobile." Sticking to the official line not to confirm things unannounced, I guess.

But then while I was driving I was asking about the Internet connection and asked "so you've got AT&T connected?" and the rep replied "yeah."

Obviously I could not pull up ipchicken and check that statement given that I was driving, but someone who thinks of it before their test drive might do it while you are parked.

ddruz | July 15, 2012

AT&T is typically near the bottom of the rankings of the major cell phone companies. I have it on my iPhone. I can personally vouch for their honestly very poor service. I count the days till my plan runs out so I can switch to Verizon. Can someone illuminate me as to why Tesla teamed up with AT&T knowing as they must that AT&T is generally regarded as providing below average service?

cerjor | July 15, 2012


Money. If AT&T is the provider, then I bet they offered Tesla a better deal.

I was told In Seattle that the decision had not yet been made.

jerry3 | July 15, 2012

ATT uses the same world wide standard that every country outside of North America uses. Because Tesla sells world wide it only makes sense to use a standard that won't require different hardware for different countries. I've not had a problem with ATT on my iPhones.

Sudre_ | July 15, 2012

Luckily I will be able to tether my T-mobile phone. I just recently dropped ATT because of their need to add stuff to my plan without me acknowledging it. It was cheaper to pay the cancellation fee than keep the forced huge data plan I would never use. I had the option to keep my existing phone which tells me it might be possible to use t-mobile or ATT. ATT does have great rates for those that use the large amount of minutes and data in their plans.

BYT | July 15, 2012

I can also vouch that in the Bay Area where Tesla Motors, Apple, Inc., Google and a few other Silicon Valley notables call home that AT&T Wireless(as crappy as it is all over the rest of the country) has had the highest customer satisfaction rating for dropped calls and consistency around there. At least it was the case about a year ago and for many many years before that.

I'm currently in Las Vegas, AT&T Wireless is HORRIBLE here!!

nvjx | July 15, 2012

Are you forced into having a data plan? I hope not . I have an iphone and an ipad and I hardly ever use the data plan on those - preferring to use free wi fi when needed. I am getting a performance model with tech pkg so the car will already have nav on the hard drive. I certainly don't need another data plan.

bfranks273 | July 15, 2012

In the DC event (Gaithersburg) does it tell you anything that my iPhone AT&T said 4G but the car said 3G? Also the rep indicated that the car is a WI-FI hot spot, or is that what you have been saying above?

Robert22 | July 15, 2012

T-mobile tethering will indeed be possible.

MandL | July 18, 2012

I read somewhere else (sorry too lazy to find it again) yesterday or today that Tesla was planning to buy a block of time/bandwidth from AT&T and resell to its customers. I'm pretty sure this possibility was raised by someone months ago.

Steve_W | July 18, 2012

I am the one that posted that the Tesla reps at the DC event said they will purchase a large block of data from the carrier and resell in smaller blocks to the vehicle owners. The also told me that the system is GSM, but would not confirm that it is ATT, other than to smile when I noted that the Roadster used ATT.

As to whether the car supports 4G, I was told the car currently supports 3G only, that Elon was mistaken when he said 4G ships with the car. They said eventually the car will support 4G and/or LTE via an upgrade. They would not indicate whether it would be a free upgrade or a cost option. All they would say is the car was designed to enable them to change from 3G to 4G and/or LTE.

jerry3 | July 18, 2012

If it's ATT, it won't matter because of the new ATT plan that will combine everything (and unlimited domestic phone calls/texting)

Steve_W | July 18, 2012

Jerry3, what you say may not be accurate. If Tesla is the provider of service (as a reseller of data purchased from ATT), you may not be able to include the Model S in the mew shared data plan announced by ATT. I guess we will have to wait to see how this playes out; i.e., whether we can purchase a data plan directly from ATT, or if a data plan can only be purchased from Tesla.

I called Tesla today and asked them, but they would not comment. All they told me is they hope to have negotiations with the cell carrier completed soon.

Sudre_ | July 18, 2012

WOW those ATT data plans SUCK. seriously. I am glad I just got rid of them. My data plan would have been going up with ATT if I kept them.

jerry3 | July 19, 2012

Mine will go down because I have a lot of minutes on my phones.

jerry3 | July 19, 2012


I haven't heard anything that indicates Tesla will be a reseller of the service. They said that the Signatures would get a year's free service but I envisioned some kind of a credit to offset the phone charge. If it's extra, then they're going to have a problem explaining why you can't include the service on your normal plan.

Steve_W | July 20, 2012

Jerry3, I'm just repeating what two Tesla reps told me at the DC event. Tes, the Sigs include 1 year of free service. The reps told me that service will be provided thru Tesla, not the cell carrier.

olanmills | July 21, 2012

OnStar works through Verizon, but that doesn't mean you simply have the option of circumventing GM and adding some kind of plan directly to a Verizon account.

cerjor | July 21, 2012

I just talked with Lance in Bellevue. He said that Sigs will receive a free data plan for one year. The rest of us will not. However, the monthly charge is most likely to be $19.95. He didn't say how much data that involves.

cybercop | July 22, 2012

"If it's ATT, it won't matter because of the new ATT plan that will combine everything (and unlimited domestic phone calls/texting)"

Actually, if that $20/month figure turns out to be true, it could be cheaper to buy the "Tesla" plan with its own data allotment than to add the car to your share plan (if that would even be possible, which I doubt). Adding another device to the shared plan itself costs money!! There is no listed fee yet for a car, but a mobile hotspot is $20. While a tablet is only $10, since the car acts as a hotspot, it might get priced that way.

The $20/month sounded low at first, but upon reflection, it would not surprise me. They will probably need to see how much data people really use in the car before they can get pricing right, but I suspect Tesla wants early adopters to get the full functionality from the car (hence the free year of service to Sig owners). Besides a light usage IPad plan (250 MB) can be had for even less than that ($15). The question is, when the connection is there, will data useage be light or not? Are people really going to use the car as another place to read email? I see connecting to car when parked (has to be low bandwith, if this even requires the data plan), some downloading a maps (which again would presumably be limited since route maps can be done at home), maybe some music streaming (has to be the biggest data eater reported at 28 MB/hour), very occasional web lookups (when stopped, and not just browsing).

The wildcard is how often passengers are using the hotspot feature. Like my 3 kids are going to want to stream Netflix and play on-line games (should I get the car AND if I let them into the car). But while I would choose to take the Tesla sometimes with the whole family just because it will be a nicer vehicle than the van, the number of times all 5 of us are in the car for any length of time would be pretty minimal.

Sudre_ | July 22, 2012

cybercop, if the wifi hotspot reaches beyond the car your kids might play their games thru it from the house and not even remember they are still logged into the Tesla wifi hotspot.

Currently I use my 10" Acer tablet much like the Tesla will be used (it gets Velcro'd on the Saturn dash when I am out). When I am within 100' of my house it is logged onto my home network. When I am on the road/out (streaming Pandora, google maps, occasional browsing and facebook) it is on my smartphone hotspot. That is how I plan on using the Tesla. I will not be getting a data plan for it.

I use about 400MB a week or <2GB a month. Half of that is on my home network the other on the smartphone 4G. I expect that to double with the S because it should be easier and sound better to listen to Pandora in the S. On vacations with the Tablet most all that ends up on the 4G smartphone which has T-Mobile's 4G, 5Gig unlimited data plan with tethering. (no extra charge for going over 5Gig it just drops to 3g speed)

That might give you all an idea what your data plan will need. That does not include the misc 4g data used for the phone itself or when my wife's phone is tethered to mine (she has a tiny data plan because she rarely uses it)

Beaker | July 22, 2012

@cybercop +1 for streaming Netflix on the go. My kids can hardly wait for that.

GLO | October 1, 2012

Has anyone else heard more on the data plan? A TM rep told my husband that this was not needed. I think she was confused as to his question. We will be at a store on Saturday and will discuss again. Just thought there might be news on the subject...

bfranks273 | October 1, 2012

Have not heard. The current Sigs get a year free. I think that means the regular productions which will start happening in a month or two will need to pay for a plan. Let us know what you find out.

Michael23 | October 1, 2012

There is no tesla hot spot. You can't connect to it. I checked with reps. You can only connect a phone hot spot TO the car. I'm doing this instead of paying for car data. 4g unlimited Lready on my phone with free wifi hotspot app.

drripps | October 3, 2012

There is 3G already active on the Sig cars but they are not allowed to say which carrier. After watching signal strength on my iPhone and car in the same areas, I highly suspect service is provided by AT&T. There is no ability to connect to WiFi right now or to use the Tesla connection as a hotspot. We can hope these abilities will be added with a software update.

stevenmaifert | October 3, 2012 - If the browser is working in your Model S, do an IP Lookup. Try this site: The Website should display your IP address in a box. Click on the "Lookup IP Address" button. It should display the details. Mine looks like this:

General IP Information
Decimal: 1172340320
ISP: AT&T Internet Services
Organization: AT&T Internet Services
Services: None detected
Type: Broadband
Assignment: Dynamic IP
Geolocation Information
Country: United States us flag
State/Region: California
City: Poway
Latitude: 32.9628
Longitude: -117.0359
Area Code: 858

TheAustin | October 3, 2012

Hello, AT&T!

stevenmaifert | October 3, 2012 - PS. I think the Tesla connection as a hotspot went the way of the 4 USB ports and the lighted vanity mirrors. You should still be able to tether a hotspot capable mobile phone to the Model S Wi-Fi.

stevenmaifert | October 3, 2012

Crap! Sorry for any confusion. The example I cited is my home IP address. I just put that out there for Model S owners to try and see what comes up in the car.

drripps | October 3, 2012

@stevenmaifert The ip lookup site was blocked! I found another though, that worked, and it is confirmed that our car is on AT&T. Interesting...we went to Netflix on the car browser and the page loaded but when trying to stream a movie we got a message that said we needed to view on equipment which could play the file (something like that). Will play more with this. There are definitely sites which won't load.

Also, what Model S WiFi? I don't think it's set up to receive a wifi signal. We can hope the equipment is there and they haven't updated the software needed for the Model S to connect to wifi.

jbunn | October 3, 2012

That's interesting! In the industry the term is MVNO, or Mobile Virtual Network Operator, which is a company that contracts with the actual carrier like T-Mobile or AT&T, and resells using their own brand name, handles their own billing, Customer service, ect, ect.

If the data plan is 20 bucks a month, that's not bad. I was hoping we'd have an open system, kind of like XM compatable car stereos, where you have a seperate module that is the XM receiver produced by a seperate company, and just plugs into the radio when you are ready. Most of the wireless companies have data sticks out and they use a USB interface. But it's OK. $20, not so bad.

stevenmaifert | October 3, 2012 - From the specs page "Wi-Fi ready", although I have read on other threads that this function has not been activated yet on the first cars that were delivered.

stevenmaifert | October 3, 2012 - Sorry for the multiple posts here. With respect to the streaming video services, the Model S browser may need the Flash Player plug-in. You could go to the Adobe Website and see if it will download and install.

Brian H | October 3, 2012

yes, $20 would be quite competitive. GB sorta slightly hinted something snazzy might maybe could come outa their head-banging, tho'.

BTW, it's "etc. (= et cetera)" and "separate".

jbunn | October 3, 2012

I'm spelling challenged. Always have been.