EE targets connected car market with 4G hotspot

Jamie Moss/Informa Telecoms and Media

The UK's EE has announced the availability of a new 4G WiFi hotspot device for passenger vehicles. Named the ‘Buzzard’ it has two components: a 4G WiFi router in a dongle form-factor and an adapter to allow the router to be powered by a vehicle’s 12 volt ‘cigarette lighter’ plug socket.

Once plugged in, the Buzzard becomes a 4G WiFi hotspot for up to ten connected devices. The router and power adapter are manufactured by Huawei and will be sold directly to consumers in an EE-branded package that includes an LTE SIM card. It will be priced at £49.99 ($85).

EE believes that there is a large opportunity for carriers in the connected car market and expects in-car WiFi hotspots to be particularly successful. EE is not currently seeking to acquire automobile OEM partners for the sake of embedding cellular functionality into cars at the point of manufacture. Instead EE is taking a purely aftermarket approach – for the time being at least. This allows the carrier to potentially serve a large legacy base of unconnected cars and not just the latest models rolling off of the production line.

EE has come to market with the Buzzard because it felt that MiFi routers failed to address specific use case requirements for broadband connectivity. The carrier believes that the Buzzard will ‘feel’ like a dedicated solution, with its vehicle-specific form factor. It will therefore be a simpler value proposition to market to consumers and EE thinks that it will provide a better end user experience.

The Buzzard will automatically pair with previously connected devices whenever they re-enter the car, and can be added as an additional mobile device to a customer’s existing shared data plan.

The Buzzard is part of a family of new own-brand devices, intended by EE to balance value for money with good quality. The aim is to make 4G LTE as affordable as possible and to compel consumers to choose the EE brand. EE states that the public “can expect to see more from us in the car space” and announced that the Buzzard will be the first of several vehicle-centric 4G devices.

The Buzzard will be available from May 28th and its launch will be accompanied by a new range of 4G WiFi data plans.

EE’s new 4G WiFi pricing plans launching 28th May 2014

EE Pricing

Source: EE

Read Jamie’s full opinion piece about EE’s new connected car devices at the Intelligence Centre.

Jamie Moss is a senior analyst for content and applications at Informa Telecoms and Media. For more information, visit www.informatandm.com/

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