I remember hearing a question asked of NAB’s Lynn Claudy at a legal session at this spring’s NAB. The question was: How long before the Internet is viable in cars?
He mentioned he saw a portable WiFi connection called “Autonet” debuted at CES in January. He said the wireless Internet router connects to a cellphone data network on one side and also to a WiFi network at the other end.
Now, Avis says its offering Autonet in rental cars in San Francisco and San Jose airports.
Avis says users can rent the portable WiFi hotspot for $10.95 a day. “Just plug the portable unit into your cigarette lighter and go, or take it into your hotel room and plug into a wall outlet when you’re done driving for the day,” according to Autonet.
“With Autonet Mobile, the first ever, always-on mobile broadband network, you and your passengers can now enjoy Internet services and WiFi connectivity whenever you want to by turning your car into a WiFi hotspot on wheels. IM, chat, stream media, e-mail, game online, listen to music and more,” states the company at www.autonetmobile.com/wp
Presumably radio stations could be streamed on this service; however Womble Carlye’s Gregg Skall cautioned in the NAB session that wireless carriers are beginning to place restrictions on customer agreements if customers use the cell data network for uses other than listening to the carrier’s audio music service.
Sounds like NAB needs to cozy up to the wireless carriers to make sure radio isn’t frozen out of this distribution method in the future.