Anyone have a 3G package from their phone provider set up in the car yet?

Anyone have a 3G package from their phone provider set up in the car yet?

Curious if anyone has 3G wireless with their mobile phone provider currently and which provider? What packages are available. I called AT&T and they didn't know anything about it.

Is everyone just tethering for now?

stevenmaifert | 14 dicembre 2012

I'm not well versed on this technical aspect, but doesn't the Model S WiFi have to be activated before you can tether with a mobile phone?

riceuguy | 14 dicembre 2012

Tesla hasn't announced the available plans, nor have they said when tethering will be available. Until then, my understanding is that 3G in the car is free until plans are announced and available, at which point WiFi tethering may or may not yet be an option.

geekydon | 15 dicembre 2012

I think the mobile phone connects via Bluetooth, so no...WiFi doesn't have to be activated.

bsimoes | 15 dicembre 2012

I don't really understand WiFi vs. Bluetooth, 3G etc, question is around wireless updates and how that is accomplished. I've talked to many Tesla store people to try and understand how this is done, and only end up more confused. Will I be able to get the wireless updates if I don't tether a phone or purchase a plan or do anything beyond park the car in my driveway? Please, keep in mind that I am a 52 year old woman who has no real understanding of technology or even the electronic discussions on this forum.

David Trushin | 15 dicembre 2012

Ok, maybe a little primer on wifi, bluetooth, and wireless phone service is in order. I apologize if I'm overexplaining and may not have all the details straight.

Wifi is provided by many different providers and is a local connection, such as in a coffeeshop, bookstore or your home. You connect end user devices, like computers, printers, notepads and even phones can connect to it. You probably have a wifi connection in your house, if you have wireless connectivity to the web. The model S has the capability to connect to the web through a wifi connection. So you can attach it to many wifi networkds and get web service.

Bluetooth is an even more local connection, say between a phone and a headset. Since the MS has bluetooth connectivity, you can connect the phone to the car to make handsfree calls.

3G, LTE, etc. are ways the the car can set up its own connection to the internet through the wireless network. This requires a service plan and operates the same way that a smart phone operates, i.e. data goes over the phone network if it is the only thing available and through the wifi network if there is one connected.

Wifi Hotspot service is provided by many carriers to individuals with data plans. In this service, you can make the phone set up as a wifi connectivity point for end user devices. If you have your smart phone set up this way, when you are in your car, the MS can use its wifi connectivity to connect to the web through your phone. Advantages: you don't need a separate data plan and if you have LTE, its pretty fast. Disadvanatages: you will run throuh your data quota fast and the phone will need to have its charger plugged in because this uses a lot of power from the phone.

There may be other stuff that I left out, so please chip in.

rwang | 15 dicembre 2012

I don't know how it works, but we do have 3G set up in the car. I didn't pay for it, I don't know where the bill goes to, but I can access maps, surf the net, and do all this via the Tesla without hooking it up to a hot spot. Anyone else have this or did I luck out?

bsimoes | 15 dicembre 2012

David, thank you; the fog is clearing slowly! Right now, I have a phone that has smartphone capability in that I can access the web, etc. It's through Tracphone. I have it for emergencies, and therefore, don't have unlimited service. It sounds like I will need to upgrade if I want to have web, navigation, etc. in the car. I do have WiFi in the house, but it is a very limited range; I can't use my laptop out by the pool to get online. I think I remember being told at Best Buy that I could upgrade the Netgear wireless hookup for a larger range. By doing so, would that be enough to get wireless updates for the car? I'm thinking that I will have to make the leap and update and upgrade my phone service, but I don't want to do so until I'm sure that it is compatable with the car....

David Trushin | 15 dicembre 2012


It might be a good idea to get a range extender. However, I would not suggest using electronic devices in your pool, especially if they are plugged in. I have the same problem with my pool, but that's because my pool's in the university field house.

If the trade-off is to get data connectivity on your phone just to connect the car, I would wait for the package for the car and get that then. You might want to ask a friend with wifi hotspot on their phone to let you try it in the car to see how it is. But nobody has unlimited data service nowadays, so if you use too much in the trial you may lose a friend.

stevenmaifert | 15 dicembre 2012

@bsimoes - David's explanation was quite thorough. The only thing I would add is that the WiFi in Model S won't become functional until a software update is released sometime in Q1, according to the Q&A thread.

bsimoes | 15 dicembre 2012

Thank you for the information and chuckles! I thought that unlimited minutes, web access, texting, and so on was what I'd need as the fix. This is not something that people get? Now I'm really confused. I feel such a mental block when it comes to this stuff. I am usually quite quick with most stuff, but technology makes me feel like an idiot!

bsimoes | 15 dicembre 2012

Sorry for the "double-stuff!"

JohnFloyd | 15 dicembre 2012

That's weird...I guess every time I thought of WiFi in the car, I was thinking the car would be able to extend IT'S data connection (3G or 4G LTE) to users in the vehicle, ie, passenger who wanted to connect to the internet from their laptop. I guess this could also go the other way with the car extending the driver's phone data connection and tethering to provide a wireless network?

Is there an official clear explanation from Tesla as to what they mean when they say WiFi in the car? Or is that a stupid question?

Brian H | 15 dicembre 2012

The updates do not require any kind of service. TM downloads them to the car directly when you are out and about, and they are then saved till you park the car, at which time it asks permission to install them. "Little" updates happen silently in the background, and you'll never notice it happen.

bsimoes | 15 dicembre 2012

If I'm understanding it correctly, I think we will need to pay to have the 3G/4G connection work. It's there but not activated unless you pay eventually; they are working out the details, and until then, are providing it for free. Soon though, I think it won't be free. I think you can get web access one of two ways: 1. pay for Tesla connectivity (above), 2. plug in your phone that has connectivity, which in turn, can be synced or transmitted to the car to provide access to such things as turn by turn navigation, Pandora,coming apps...? Please, please, please, correct my ignorance!

vouteb | 15 dicembre 2012

Bis ones:

If the car becomes wiri enabled as mentioned above, you could also decide to only buy a WYFI

Google it

It's a paid for Verizon thingy that converts a mobile signal into wifi for up to 5 devices at the same time

I live in the UK but bought one in the USbfor when I travel to make US domestic Internet/email usage cheaper

Walk into any Verizon store and ask to explain or check the website.

PS I am even older than you,


Sudre_ | 15 dicembre 2012

I have a 3 gigabit data plan that can tether and it is 4G.
When I use up my data I get dropped to the slower 3G at no extra charge so it is truly unlimited data.

If you have unlimited web access then you probably have unlimited data. I know several people that are grandfathered in to unlimited data plans. Many providers are dropping the unlimited data plans.

brdunton | 15 dicembre 2012

I do believe it is a GSM chip, so I would expect in the US AT&T or T-Mobile (my bet is AT&T). I would hope that you could add it to your mobile share plan for $10/mo (similar to adding an iPad Cellular for $10/mo to your account). Nonetheless, enjoy free while you have it!

dstiavnicky | 15 dicembre 2012

You get another SIM chip from your service provider with a simple data plan.
That's it.

space09 | 15 dicembre 2012

My bet is the plan Tesla is negotiating will give Tesla 3G (internal) service for all cars. This will allow them to get reports of problems and send wireless updates to the car without you having to purchase a plan. However, without a plan, you will not be able to surf, use Internet radio, or Google maps. Once the Wifi update comes to the car, you would be able to use those features when tethered to your existing phone plan via hotspot. However, the primary reason for getting a dedicated service for your car is that you would be able to use the mobile application. For instance, if you wanted to tell your car to cool down prior to you arriving to it, or see where it is on the map, you'll need a dedicated connection since your car will not always be parked in an area with Wifi, unless you leave your mobile hotspot with the car all the time.

I think we'll know more at some point in Q1 of next year. Until then, enjoy the free service. :-)

tezco | 15 dicembre 2012

I wonder how long we will have the wireless and 3G for free? Wireless is only free in my Leaf for the first three years, if I remember correctly.

RFBrost | 15 dicembre 2012

On the subject of unlimited data. T-Mobile in the US is NOT an official seller of the iPhone however they have over 1M iPhone customers. They have a BYOP (Bring Your Own Phone) program that has many unique features including unlimited data. At the other end of the spectrum, they also have a buy as you go NO DATA program for smart phones, $1.99/100MB for people who need very little data. They also let you buy a limited 500 minute voice plan, no text messages for $35/mo. Every other carrier seems to only sell deluxe unlimited voice & text plans when you want a "smart" phone. This is less then half the price from the other carriers. The downside, you need to buy an unlocked iPhone for full price from Apple. As of Dec 5th you can do this from their web site. I hate these endless monthly charges for services that I don’t want or need. This T-Mobile program looks the best. Cricket & Virgin also offer iPhone packages that beat the big three (Verizon, AT&T, & Sprint).

riceuguy | 15 dicembre 2012

Stephen.Pace nailed it. I write about this stuff for a living, so feel free to ask me specific questions. The short version is this:

Tesla is providing free 3G service (that allows you to surf the web, use internet radio, etc.) for now. I believe they said Signature owners would get a year of service thrown in; everyone else will need to pay once package prices are determined. You can then choose to buy their package, and as mentioned this is the "best" option as it will allow full use of the mobile app and requires the least hassle.

Should you choose not to buy a data package from Tesla (AT&T), supposedly you'll still be able to get updates via Tesla 3G (they'll continue to pay for barebones service in order to enable updates, remote diagnostics, etc.), but you'll need to provide the car with another way to connect to the internet. Tethering to a phone via WiFi (some phones with some providers allow this, often for an extra monthly fee) or USB (most phones and most providers allow this, usually with an extra fee) is one option. As mentioned, you could also pick up a "MiFi" card, which is something you can get from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc. that creates a portable wi-fi hotspot for the car and up to four other devices. All of these options are contingent upon the Tesla update allowing the car to connect to wi-fi hotspots.

Hopefully this helps!

Enoch_Root | 16 dicembre 2012

The prod. Spec. At Short Hill location thought (but was not positive) that the data package for the MS would allow you to use your Tesla itself as a wifi hotspot, allowing for instance a kindle fire to connect to the car's 4G connection.

would be great for the kiddies on those road trips if I could throw them in the 3rd row with a Netflix connection. Anyone feel they have more definitive info on this item? If it won't be an option I'd likely go the MiFi route, sine I'd really like connectivity not just for the center console but for wifi tablets in the car as well.