MyInfo Update: BMW USA Signs with AT&T

With the introduction of MyInfo to the US market this has opened our eyes to a few interesting developments you may not realize.

BMW since the inception of BMW Assist it has used CDMA technology on the Verizon network. BMW has never publicly admitted the specifics but this is a fair assumption due to the network size and the previous technology restraints.

This fact alone explains why Europe and other locales have always had certain features before the US. CDMA is essentially a technology used in North America (we are not getting overly specific with this) and the US telematics units were country/carrier specific. If there is one thing that people know about Verizon is that they are years behind others in the release of new phones. This has been no different for the BMW modules. Think about it, you are in Munich designing a unit for a car and the network does not even exist there, so you must then travel stateside or find a stateside manufacturer or designer; not logistically a good thing.

The other advantage is the cost savings to BMW. They no longer have to try to maintain two separate types of systems and develop for both.

With the change to GSM this will open many avenues in development and cross compatibility. There are many manufacturers and providers designing and building new platforms for GSM in Europe. The devices can operate around the world and are easily updated. The unit will more than likely have a sim card (chip) that can be removed/updated/changed though it is more than likely sealed and locked away so users do not try funny things. GSM will also allow some newer technologies in the field of car communications and data transmission to work in the US. We will be discussing this further in the near future.

This also means that BMW has jumped ship from Verizon and joined up with AT&T, the largest GSM provider in the US. The other option would be that the car is setup for open access to all GSM carriers and uses each system as it requires with BMW operating as a virtual network provider, buying chunks of minutes from the network operators. We see AT&T as the likely option as they have agreements for roaming with most other carriers and this will be less of a hassle for BMW. BMW will not directly comment on their carrier choice but we have strong indications it is indeed AT&T.

The new unit will also feature text (SMS) messaging in order to communicate with the car and navigation unit. This is a feature that was lacking in prior units and part of the reason for the switch. XML code from Google maps will be sent to the BMWAssist network which will then be sent to the car in the form of a text (SMS) message and then interpreted by the navigation system.

One question is how safe is this from viruses and hackers, or just the average Joe plugging in random items via Google Maps. The system must have some security more complex than just the car data info and email address requirements.

Here is an excerpt from the BMWCCA website about the particulars of the system:

Thanks to a new GSM-based telematics system soon to be available across the entire range of BMWs (except X3 and Z4), BMW is launching the MyInfo feature in the States. Using Google Maps, this new offering allows BMW owners to send a destination, including street address and telephone number, to a satnav-equipped BMW from virtually any computer connected to the Internet. We checked with Fran Dance, Telematics Services Manager at BMW of North America, to find out how MyInfo actually works. According to Dance, once you click on send, the system uses XML from Google to BMW Assist. BMW Assist then uses SMS to send the information to the car. The SMS message has network persistence for four days, which means the car does not have to be on to receive the message Sorry: no upgrade path for existing BWWs According to Fran Dance, an upgrade for older vehicles is not available. The MyInfo feature requires the new telematics unit to function. Jonathan B. Spira, Technology Editor

To see this excellent article in its entirety check it out here

[Picture: BMWCCA]
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  • Gabe

    Great great news. As someone who’s been using GSM phones since the week ATT (known as ATT Wireless at the time) launched the system I can tell you this is long over due.

    Now I wonder how this will effect the unlimited internet access we’ve been hearing about. We know that will use Edge – a GSM technology. Are we now just a software update away from 2009 BMW’s also having this?

  • Michael

    Gabe, You got it. The details are still a bit muddy but we are on it!

  • vin.

    Interesting news. How long do you will BMW/MINI continue support for their older systems that use the CDMA network?

    Also, should we expect to see a more public partnership revealed with ATT in the near future–BMW/Apple iPhone (3G hopefully soon)/ATT sounds pretty interesting….

  • GSKChicago

    This won’t take affect right away though? I’m likely ordering my 135i tonight with NAV. I presume from the other articles posted, this is not something I will get to benefit from on a model built in the next 6 to 8 weeks?

  • Michael

    No, you are SOL if you order now. The only model that will get this will be the X6 from April forward, all supported models will be 9/08. Is it a huge deal and will make me not get a car now…. probably not since it will still drive the same and put a big smile on my face!

  • GSKChicago

    As fantastic as this would be to have, I can’t wait until September 08. For one, I’m not patient enough. Second, my wife may change her mind by then. :o)

  • Ryan

    Do you think this will lead to other features of BMW ConnectedDrive coming to the US (Google Local Search, BMW Online, Internet in the vehicle, etc.)?

  • Michael
    Do you think this will lead to other features of BMW ConnectedDrive coming to the US (Google Local Search, BMW Online, Internet in the vehicle, etc.)?

    We have a feeling (or indication….) that this will appear on certain new models, like the forthcoming 7 initially and trickle down from there (X6). We have posed this question to those in the know and they are looking into whether others will get those features. More on the 7 a bit later.

  • illegalprelude

    if it is AT&T, gimme some kind of iPhone integration! Come on BMW!

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