LAS VEGAS -- If you thought America's wireless infrastructure was overtaxed now, just wait: 4G connectivity is coming to the car.
General Motors' OnStar division -- yes, they of the little blue button -- announced last night here at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show a partnership with Verizon to bring more bandwidth to the family vehicle. And in a way, it's the best use of 4G yet.
4G speeds are welcome by everyone, but the technology comes with drawbacks -- among then, limited availability and a battery-eating reputation. It might be wonderful to buy the latest Google Android 4G smartphone, but unless you're near a major city and don't stray too far from an outlet, it's of no use.
With an alternator under the hood that keeps things charged, the car solves the latter problem easily. It's a welcome hurdle to lower as GM courts third-party app developers to work with its platform. It's also quite necessary to advance the capabilities of in-vehicle telematics: though some drivers will find 4G best suited to keeping four noisy kids occupied in the backseat, others will notice how it enables real-time diagnostics, GPS navigation and "smart" connectivity -- such as instructing the garage door to open before you arrive.
Simply, you'll want access to the cloud on hand when the "check engine" light comes on 300 miles from home.
The car of the future is connected indeed, but that vision requires a wireless broadband infrastructure that's as robust as the physical roads and streets the car is actually traveling on. With OnStar, Verizon putting its toe in the water to test it all out.