by Mike Dano |
Sprint is now selling a “Sprint Drive” product that essentially plugs into a user’s car and supports a range of connected car services including vehicle location services and an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot.
Sprint Drive puts the nation’s smallest nationwide wireless network operator on equal footing with its larger rivals. Verizon first introduced an aftermarket connected car device—now dubbed Hum—in 2015. T-Mobile followed in 2016 with its SyncUp Drive product in 2016; T-Mobile disclosed in May that it had deployed more than 700,000 of the devices.
AT&T—a leader in the market for building LTE connections directly into vehicles—only joined the aftermarket sector for connected car services in September with the Harman Spark. However, despite AT&T’s late entry into the aftermarket space, the company has touted connected car progress: Earlier this month, AT&T boasted that it counts 24 million cars connected on its network and 1 million customers using its in-car Wi-Fi hotspots.
As for Sprint, the company is reportedly hoping to goose its own entry into the connected car space with a promotional offering on its new Drive product, according to Wave7 Research, which will launch in time for the Black Friday shopping day. Wave7 first reported the introduction of the Sprint Drive product, noting that it costs $120 or $5 per month for 24 months, and that service for the gadget costs $10 per month for a 2 GB plan or $25 per month for unlimited data services.
On its webpage for the device, Sprint touts that customers who plug the Drive into their car’s OBD-II port can obtain real-time vehicle tracking and diagnostics, can create an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot, and can obtain roadside assistance.
Such products are becoming increasingly important to wireless network operators that are looking for additional sources of revenue beyond phones. As a result, they’re looking to connected devices ranging from tablets to smartwatches to vehicles to their networks, and to profit from monthly service revenues for those devices.