LTE and Tethering Update

LTE and Tethering Update

Surely I must have missed a thread or two, but Elon tweeted the following eralier tonight:

"Tesla software knits together Google Voice, Slacker, Gracenote & others and streams over 3G (will be LTE later)" and "Over the air upgrade coming in a few months to allow tethering (and other things)."

Bummer about the "few months" before tethering, but great to know LTE is legitimately coming.

mkidding | 12 mai 2013

That probably also means a monthly usage fee is coming soon. Just my guess

Omnilord | 12 mai 2013

When asked on Twitter "…Is LTE a software or hardware upgrade?" Elon replied “…Requires hardware unfortunately.”

jeroens | 12 mai 2013

On thethering:

@elonmusk: @SeanChin @RaimisJ Over the air upgrade coming in a few months to allow tethering (and other things).

shs | 12 mai 2013

Hopefully such a hardware upgrade will be one of the perks of those of us holding onto our service contracts.

Sudre_ | 12 mai 2013

shs I think you are on to something. I think that LTE will be part of the upgrades that you get with the service package. Those that decided not to purchase the service package will be spending some cash.

GeekEV | 12 mai 2013

I hope all this talk about tethering isn't just referring to the tethering your phone to the car, I want the other way around. I want to tether the car to my phone.

fluxemag | 12 mai 2013

Would be nice if some day you could upgrade the computer to a full intel processor and graphics card. I'd gladly give up some drunk space and 2k for a beefed up computer option with LTE and a solid state drive.

This car reminds me of an airplane. The fuselage could be 40 years old but it's got a brand new avionics kit.

rmitchum | 12 mai 2013

drunk space :-) hee hee hee!

davidcjones | 12 mai 2013

I would be happy if I could just get audio from web pages. I am am subscriber, and while I don't need to watch games while driving, I would like to be able to listen to the audio streams and listen to games. The fact I can pull up the web page but not hear the stream is frustrating.

fluxemag | 12 mai 2013

Can you get those on XM though?

hsadler | 12 mai 2013

Is the car's 3G connection through AT&T? The reason I ask is that at home my cell phone coverage is very weak and AT&T gave me a Microcell to enhance the signal for my iPhone when I am there. However, for the Tesla to use it, the Microcell needs to have it's "phone" number registered to it.
How do I get that number? Need this for any Tesla software updates sent over 3G.

Brian H | 12 mai 2013

drunk space: is that where you stash your buddies when you're the designated driver?

riceuguy | 12 mai 2013

Hsadler, it is AT&T, though others have gotten the "phone number" from Tesla Ownership but have not successfully tied it to their microcell. Worth a try though! On the other hand, an update is expected in the next couple of months to allow the car to connect via your home Wi-fi.

shop | 12 mai 2013

Yeah, I upgraded my house wifi system to have a strong signal in the garage for this reason...

hsadler | 13 mai 2013

Note to self : move Apple Airport closer to garage - rec room will just have to suffer.

rochec | 13 mai 2013

@hsadler or you can get an airport express, which you can hook into your existing wifi network and will extend the range for you. It is basically a repeater and will take the signal from your main airport and put it out from its location, so you can have more coverage.

David Trushin | 13 mai 2013

I've posted this before but I think it's worth saying again. I plan to get a mobile wifi router and put it on my verizon data plan. leave it in the car and charge it from the USB port. That way I can have it integrated with my existing service plan, get 4G, and have a wifi hotspot in my car to hook up tablets, etc. Maybe turn it off at night when garaged to use the wifi landline.

stevenmaifert | 13 mai 2013

@davidcjones - Can you get your on your smartphone? You could watch the games (not recommended while driving) and BT the sound to the ModS audio system. Works great with the Sling Media on my home satellite system. Watch and/or listen to my home TV from anywhere as long as my phone can get a data connection.

hsadler | 13 mai 2013

"you can get an airport express, which you can hook into your existing wifi network and will extend the range for you."

I see a string of Airport Expresses (Expressi ?) throughout the town.

olanmills | 13 mai 2013

LTE? Really? Wooooooooooohoooooooooooo

awaite | 13 mai 2013

@riceguy who has gotten the phone number for the car's 3g radio? I've called multiple times and have been denied every time. I have the exact same scenario - crappy AT&T coverage and an existing microcell for this reason. Any tips or pointers on that?

Of course, I was also told that having 3g connectivity where I charge overnight wasn't necessary for updates but I missed two updates and had to call Tesla to have them force-push to my car so I'm suspicious that not having 3g connectivity where I charge is keeping me from getting updated regularly.

riceuguy | 13 mai 2013

My fault...lots of folks were talking about using microcells at TMC forum, but all have since been denied the number by Tesla. Sorry, that sucks!

Robert22 | 13 mai 2013

I doubt it takes this much time to develop a connectivity package. It may take this much time, however, to figure out ways to defeat most competing methods of connectivity as mentioned above, to maximize revenue.

riceuguy | 13 mai 2013

Or, why start charging for 3G when you are about to upgrade to LTE (let's hope!)

Robert22 | 13 mai 2013

How about sticker shock?

Pungoteague_Dave | 14 mai 2013

Don't expect the LTE hardware upgrade to come for free... Just as we have to pay or the new suspension bits or other hardware changes, (or a cell phone upgrade with your carrier), I expect the upgrade will cost about the same as a new cell phone out of the two year upgrade cycle with wireless carriers, or about $650. Add a couple hours labor for installation and configuration, and I expect to pay about $1,000 to get an LTE upgrade.

Lou in SoCal | 14 mai 2013

Here's what I was told by Ownership:

"Annual Services will cover any hardware replacements that are designed for fleet-wide implementation."

So, the cost is the $600 annual service but you may get other upgrades if available. I'm sure Tesla will find a way to introduce a material hardware upgrade every year to bring cars in for service.

olanmills | 14 mai 2013

"Annual Services will cover any hardware replacements that are designed for fleet-wide implementation."

I would be hopeful that an upgrade like LTE hardware would be included, but I also wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't.

I really think it just depends on what the upgrade is. For example, I imagine that if there is a known quality issue or if it's something that's been talked about before, like the sun visors, that replacements like that will be included.

Pungoteague_Dave | 14 mai 2013

At some point TM has to cut it off for fiscal prudence reasons. I could see a good-faith upgrade on the move to LTE, but even there the cost to TM would be at least ($250 for hardrware + $300 for installation) * 15,000 existing cars bythe time they get it done = $8.2 million. Given their current and projected profitability picture, this is quite material. I don't think we get upgrades forever (or even with the annual services fee) despite Lou's Ownership quote. What if there is a "better" battery pack in the 2014 models? It will be fiscally IMPOSSIBLE for TM to upgrade our older cars, no matter what we pay in annual fees.

jchangyy | 14 mai 2013

Does an lte radio cost that much???

one2mark | 14 mai 2013

4G will be awesome. Does anyone else daytrade from their car. There is something really cool about trading TSLA from my car!

Pungoteague_Dave | 15 mai 2013

I have no idea what an LTE radio costs, but assume that TM must buy it (presumably a complete swappable cell phone card) from one of the cell phone hardware providers like Samsung, so I used a value that is less than half the cost currently charged for the latest LTE or 4g phone when purchased without a two year service contract (typically $650, but I used $250 assuming TM has volume purchasing power).

On the other hand, if TM links the LTE upgrade to an owner-paid contract with a specific wireless provider like Verizon or AT&T, then we might see the upgrade cost be very small or even free, like the cheaper phone upgrades that the carriers provide. My point is that there has to be some sort of shift in the wireless economics from TM toward the Model S owners, and the switch to LTE is the perfect time to make this happen. The sooner the better because TM is digging a bigger hole every day with customer deliveries that incorporate the old 3G technology.

MandL | 15 mai 2013

I suspect an LTE module costs under $50. Likely less than half that. And I can't imagine installation would take more than 5 minutes, especially since they've been anticipating this from the start. It's surely an easily accessible plug and play solution.

Manta | 15 mai 2013

@David Trushin (re. mobile wifi router) - Two things to consider: (1) Will the battery in the router keep enough charge if you're away from the car for an extended period, or will you lose the ability to communicate with the car via the smartphone app if the router's battery dies? (2) I don't know if the USB port power is switched with the car or always on, but I'd suspect that the power from is coming from the 12V battery.

@Robert22 - When Elon was in Norway, he announced that Tesla isn't planning to make money off the data plans but rather wants to get the best price he can for us and pass it along--if that means that Tesla eats our roaming charges if we drive outside the country. I did speak to someone at customer service, and he said they're looking into an option that would bundle Slacker Premium with the data plan. (This would be for the account that came with the car. The reason why they don't give out the password to that account is because it's not meant to be shared with other devices.)

David Trushin | 15 mai 2013


I'm assuming that the wifi router will operate while the car is away from the house, not operate when I am home, and in any case when wifi router is not on, the native 3G in the car will provide the connectivity to the app and to Tesla for updates and data dumps. A little complicated, but hopefully, there will be a way to select wifi networks in a rule based fashion, like home network first, router when available, car 3G as fall back. Worst case, I can always pull the plug on the router when I park the car, but that's pretty messy solution. I think it will charge from the car so its battery is not an issue.

If none of this works, I'll go LTE in the car. It's hard to spec a system when it's pretty much a black box. Must wait for the details.

Robert22 | 15 mai 2013


I've mentioned this before in another thread but if getting the best price on a data plan is the goal, all they need to do is ring up the new CEO of T-Mobile who has already guaranteed the lowest cost GSM service (in the US) and would probably provide an even better deal to Tesla since the publicity alone would be a marketer's dream. Unlimited talk, text, data and mobile hot spot with no contract is now $50.00/ month. Data presently steps down from LTE (or 3G if not iPhone 5) to 2G after 500MB but is being upgraded to 3G in most major markets now and in coming months as they re-farm spectrum. The bad: You can bring your own iPhone, but unless you purchase their tweaked iPhone 5 (slightly cheaper than through Apple) you can't access their LTE network. Still, 50 bucks/ month for all daily phone needs + car despite being limited to 3G is still worth considering IMHO. Coverage? Not as good as Verizon, but better than AT&T in most east coast locations and much better than it used to be if you had a bad experience three years ago. Signal strength is usually sufficient along major roadways and in metropolitan areas. Worth a look if you live and work in an area they cover. I have no relationship to or investment in the company, but they've saved me a pretty penny over the last decade. | 4 juin 2013

@MandL - I agree the hardware cost is likely $25 or so if it's a separate replaceable module. Installation could be a major pain. If it's inside the 17" display, as I suspect it is, it may take a hour or more to pull it out of the dash and swap either an inside module or the entire display unit.

It's also unclear if the existing antenna is suitable for LTE, typically in the 700 MHz band, so it might need to be replaced too, and I think it's located at the top of the hatch glass, requiring considerable effort to access (removal of the hatch glass).

If there is an option in the hidden configuration menu for LTE, it doesn't mean the function exists. For example there is an option for parking sensors, but these clearly are not on the car, and there is no wiring in place for them either.

Anyway, the parts cost will be minor compared to the labor to install it. Let's hope it's not too difficult/expensive.

It's also possible at some point Tesla has or will switch to LTE hardware, so that those owners can be enabled by software. The only word I've heard from Tesla months ago is the cars at that time do not support LTE.

nikshriv | 5 juin 2013

My car was delivered to me in February with the wrong firmware. I did not have a 3G connection and therefore couldn't even use the Navigation, Voice commands, or Slacker as they all require an internet connection. The Tesla service guy told me that my LTE chip was active and not my 3G chip, therefore I was not getting an internet connection. After installing the current firmware (4.1 at the time), 3G was active. Bottom line is that the car has an LTE chip already installed (at least based on what the service center told me), and it can be activated with a simple software update.

David Trushin | 5 juin 2013

So so far i have heard reports from people on the forum and tesla reps that

1. The lte hardware is not present in the cars and
A. It will be upgraded for free.
B. It will be upgrade for a fee.
C. It will be upgrade for free if you have a service agreement
D. It will not be upgraded at all.

2. It is present but won't work.
3. It is present and is just a software upgrade.

Me, I'll just wait and see what happens.