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3/27/2008
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Turn Your Car Into A Traveling Wi-Fi Hotspot

AutoNet and Novatel rally around outfitting automobiles with CDMA EV-DO Rev. A technologies, after testing the system in Avis rental cars last year.

Internet addicts rejoice. You can now surf to your heart's content in your moving car, a veritable Wi-Fi hotspot, thanks to a partnership, announced Thursday between Novatel Wireless and AutoNet Mobile.

The two companies said they will use nationwide CDMA EV-DO Rev. A wireless infrastructure to connect autos, moving or stationary, to the Internet. The technology could even allow people near cars outfitted with the technology to surf the Web.

"It's a traveling Wi-Fi hotspot," said a spokeswoman for the firms. AutoNet, which pioneered the technology with its TRU mobile IP platform, developed an in-vehicle module for the service that is priced at $595. The monthly charge for the service begins at $39.

Novatel has developed its Expedite E725 Express Mini Cad Module for next generation designs, the firm said. The two firms are working with auto manufacturers and auto after-market OEMs to offer the technology more widely.

AutoNet's product has been gradually catching on after an early version of the TRU technology was announced for use by the Avis car rental business last year. "It's still going strong at Avis," the spokeswoman said, noting that the service gets more robust with the passage of time and the addition of newer features.

AutoNet Mobile has completed a sales agreement with its first auto dealership, the Price Family Dealer Group in California. AutoNet is also working with auto electronics supplier Delphi Corporation to develop telematics and in-car entertainment products that could be supplied using AutoNet's TRU technology.

Mobile phone infrastructure -- like the EV-DO service used by AutoNet -- currently has a head start over Mobile WiMax, the wide area wireless technology that is just beginning to be rolled out.

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