ATT 3G vs tethering

ATT 3G vs tethering

I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of my Model S, most likely within a few days. As I think about the car, I notice that all of the internet and streaming services are via ATT 3G. Where I live, ATT service is, to put it charitably, terrible. I had my iPhone service with ATT for several years, but when Verizon LTE came out with the iPhone I ditched my ATT plan and haven't looked back.

My question is to those of you who currently own the car. How has the ATT 3G service worked for you? Is it adequate for streaming audio like Slacker?

If the service is poor, are there any repercussions due to service dropouts while uploading new firmware versions to the car?

I understand that version 5.0 of the software allows you to tether your cell phone connection to the car. Given that where I live, Verizon LTE is light years faster than ATT, would there be an advantage to just tethering the internet service of the car to the Verizon "hot spot" function on the 4G LTE iPhone? | 10 september 2013

I think you are going to get a wide variety of answers based on folks individual coverage. I have pretty good AT&T coverage and for things like Slacker and Google Maps is fine. The only thing that seems slow is the browser--some folks have noted that may be more due to a sub-optimized browser than due to bandwidth issues.


brucect | 10 september 2013

agree w omarsultan - att has been fine for slacker and maps -- browser is a little slow (although that may be the s/w for the browser as much as the data connection). tethering - once available in v. 5.0 will probably be fine too (not sure whether you will be able to tether for maps) but you will probably spend an additional $10 or so/month for the additional data (if you are streaming music for typical commute daily for a month).

PaceyWhitter | 10 september 2013

Also remember that eventually you are going to have to pay for that AT&T 3G service to continue. That might swing things further in favor of tethering.

Also with 5.0 you can also access wifi, so you could download firmware that way while at home.

wcalvin | 10 september 2013

We are all still waiting what Tesla's policy is going to be, and what their offerings are.

akikiki | 10 september 2013

The 5.0 release notes didn't say that tethering is enabled. It discusses wifi, but not cell phone tethering. Maybe I am wrong, but I was reading the release notes pretty carefully. Right or wrong, best to wait and see what we actually get. Huh?

WSE51 | 10 september 2013

I have 5.0 and it has tethering ... to be specific, you set up the tethering on your cell phone, iPad, or a specific mobile base station device. As far as the Model S is concerned, it is just another WiFi network it can join. So if you have a mobile device with 4G capability, you will get faster responses in most cases than using the 3G connection built into the Model S.

In my testing, the browser is still much slower than my 4G iPhone's browser... perhaps this is due to the CPU inside the car rather than the speed of the mobile connection.

kmalloy | 12 september 2013

WSE51 - Can you post simple instructions on how to tether the iPhone to the v5 mS?

Haeze | 12 september 2013

If you are concerned mostly about your music, I would actually suggest just playing the music from the phone, to the radio using Bluetooth. The controls on the screen work for most audio apps on the iPhone, and that way you don't have to mess with tethering at all. Let the car use its AT&T 3G connection for stuff like maps, while your phone uses Verizon LTE for your music.

WSE51 | 12 september 2013

To kmalloy -- How To Enable Tethering on Your iPhone and then use it on your Model S:

On your iPhone, the first time you set it up, the instruction is different than when you do it again later. Also depending upon your data plan with your carrier you may need to call them, or enable it on their website, though for most plans it is included (it chews up your data allocation each month)

1) Go to Settings, then General, then Cellular
2) The fourth line down should say Personal Hotspot, select it
3) A new page will appear with a slider you can turn on, but before you do, it gives you a chance to enter a password for your little WiFi network to require. There is a default password which you can change. Once you slide the Personal Hotspot on, it will remind you that the name of your network is the name of your iPhone (you would have named your iPhone within iTunes when you first set up your iPhone; and you can change the name of your iPhone in iTunes by clicking on the name and an edit window becomes available).

Once the Personal Hotspot has been set up the first time, then it will appear as the 4th line of the main Settings Page and can be turned on and off directly from that page.

Once tethering is "on", then on your Model S, follow the instructions that come with v 5.0 -- basically you touch the 3G symbol on the touchscreen, and your should soon get a list of available WiFi networks, and your iPhone's network will be listed. Touch the name of your network and you will be prompted to enter the password, then the Model S will log in and start using it instead of the 3G default it has been using. As you drive, the network will move with you as long as your iPhone has sufficient cell coverage.

Hope that helps