by Agam Shah

TV in Cars Gets a Boost With New Satellite Service

Jun 24, 20091 min
MobileSmall and Medium Business

AT&T launches a car-based TV system, eyes data services.

Who is Doing It: Auto dealers are offering car buyers AT&T’s CruiseCast satellite TV service. The service, which launched in April, costs $28 a month for 22 channels including Disney, MTV and MSNBC. Chrysler offers a competing service from Sirius in selected models.

How it Works: An antenna on a car transmits broadcasts to TV screens through an in-car receiver. One tuner in the receiver limits screens to the same program, but multiple tuners are planned for viewers to choose separate programs. Signals could be easily blocked by items like road signs, but images are buffered for up to 2 minutes to offer a continuous flow of programming. RaySat provides the equipment, including a remote control, through distributors for around $1,299, but it could be available as an option when buying a car.

Growth Potential: Demand for in-car entertainment systems is growing, says Nick Cappa, a spokesman for Chrysler. But average consumers may instead adopt video delivery over mobile Internet because of the larger reach of 3G cell phone networks, says Thilo Koslowski, vice president of automotive technology at Gartner. CruiseCast may extend beyond video to data services, location-based advertising, traffic, weather and, potentially, high-speed Internet access.