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Verizon Vehicle Races to Catch Up to OnStar

Sarah Thomas
1/13/2015
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Verizon has unveiled its after-market answer to former partner OnStar's roadside assistance services. Verizon Vehicle is a platform the carrier says will bring connectivity to millions of drivers in non-connected vehicles.

Brand new Verizon Telematics CEO Andres Irlando and President Erik Goldman introduced Verizon Vehicle on Tuesday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The subscription-based service amounts to an on-board diagnostic (OBD) reader that plugs into cars' diagnostic ports, a Bluetooth speaker that affixes to the visor and an optional app, available for download on any device from any operator. (See Carriers Test-Drive Connected Car Biz Models.)

Through these after-market add-ons, customers will get 24-hour nationwide roadside assistance that Goldman says is highly accurate because of Verizon's location data, vehicle diagnostics, one-touch emergency assistance via the Bluetooth speaker, access to mechanics, maintenance reminders and more.

"Verizon Vehicle is the only after-market service with two-way voice communications, through the speaker on your visor," Goldman said, promising more to come from the platform.


For more on connected cars dedicated IoT content channel here on Light Reading.


Why this matters
If Verizon Vehicle sounds familiar, that's because it's very similar to services offered by General Motors 's OnStar. GM used to be an important partner for Verizon Wireless , but left the company early last year in favor of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s network. Now it appears Verizon is showing it can chart its own course without them and serve millions of old cars on the road that don't yet have a similar service. (See AT&T Clinches M2M Market Lead With GE Deal.)

That said, Verizon is no slouch on the connected road. It has been exploring a number of ways to be more relevant in the car since it acquired Hughes Telematics in 2012. Most recently it has launched a ZipCar-like service for car sharing and is partnering with insurance providers on data collection. (See Verizon Creates a Mobile ZipCar, Verizon CEO: Self-Driving Cars Could Hit Road Soon and Verizon Spends $612M for a Future in Cars.)

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— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/25/2015 | 11:41:01 PM
Re: Vehicle pricing
It may be a tough sell for Verizon. But I'd guess there's going to be a lot of bundling going on. And getting a partnership with dealer networks and others for installation and updates will be crucial to sales.

 @kq4ym: Better still we have to see how Verizon copes up with the shortcomings of this deal. Verizon should be pulling up their past case files and learn from them. 
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/25/2015 | 10:59:59 PM
IndyCar
Verizon Vehicle just introduced the IndyCar.

It uses a module that plugs into the on board diagnostic II port (OBD II) and links via Bluetooth to a cellular-equipped speaker that you can mount to a sunscreen.

Instead of just presenting you with a "Check Engine" light, it diagnoses the problem and sends specific information via text alert, and can connect you on the phone with a live mechanic that can provide more specific information and even a cost estimate for any necessary repairs.

In the event that something goes wrong, anyway, it also provides roadside assistance and automated emergency response. If your car is stolen, it can track that too.
steve q
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steve q,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/14/2015 | 11:24:10 PM
Re: Vehicle pricing
My only think is why verizon spend more time trying to copy what everyone else has to win more customers.
Liz Greenberg
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Liz Greenberg,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/14/2015 | 1:01:02 PM
Re: Possibly clunky?
Sarah I think that one month may be enough to test the voice interface but for most folks they thankfully will never need to use the Onstar features that pertain to safety.  I don't think that I would cough up the money either.
kq4ym
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kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/14/2015 | 11:20:41 AM
Re: Vehicle pricing
It may be a tough sell for Verizon. But I'd guess there's going to be a lot of bundling going on. And getting a partnership with dealer networks and others for installation and updates will be crucial to sales.
sarahthomas1011
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sarahthomas1011,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/14/2015 | 11:03:50 AM
Re: Possibly clunky?
Yeah, I imagine we'll have to see some promotions and bundling to get this to really take off. Even though I think it's a great service, I'm not sure I'd cough up a monthly fee for it. Verizon is offering the first month free though for a trial of sorts.
Liz Greenberg
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Liz Greenberg,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/13/2015 | 8:15:59 PM
Possibly clunky?
I for one am not convinced that users will flock to this.  Having used some of the best visor microphones, most of them don't sound as good as the built in ones plus they are much harder to access.  Even the microphone on my Garmin is easier to deal with other than the cord.  I also think that the price could be deterent unless they offer a month to month trial as well as free installation.  Clunky?  probably...
sarahthomas1011
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sarahthomas1011,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/13/2015 | 3:54:03 PM
Re: Vehicle pricing
Installation is super simple, but I agree that the car guys will be important partners for marketing and getting the word out. The connected car is an interesting space, because there is so much partnering and competing, although I guess that's true of most markets.
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
1/13/2015 | 3:46:51 PM
Re: Vehicle pricing
Verizon Vehicle is going to need strong partnership with auto dealerships and retailers to take off. Consumers aren't just going to order these off Amazon and install them themselves. They'll need to go someplace to have it done. 
sarahthomas1011
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sarahthomas1011,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/13/2015 | 2:38:42 PM
Vehicle pricing
I think this is a really smart move for Verizon to target unconnected cars through the after-market, especially since it complements a strategy of also working with automakers. This covers all its bases.

Btw, Verizon Vehicle is available on April 10 for $15 per month with a two-year contract, plus $13 to add on an additional car.
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