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.
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