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Gee, thanks, GM! - Onstar analog to go silent

fezofezo Posts: 9,346
Saw this item in the New York Times - http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/19/automobiles/19ONSTAR.html

As of the beginning of the year Verizon Wireless, the provider of the Onstar signal will shut off their analog network. GM knew this as far back as 2002 yet for two years continued to build cars with analog Onstar.

"OnStar declined to make an executive available for this article, but in a statement said, “We at OnStar sincerely regret that we will not be able to provide OnStar service to vehicles with analog-only hardware after Dec. 31, 2007.” When asked why it continued to install equipment that could not be upgraded even after the F.C.C. ruling, the company said that 'each vehicle has its own development and manufacturing schedule, not all vehicles will receive the same OnStar equipment at the same time.'"
Nice....

"Dealers will upgrade some 2002-4 vehicles to work on digital networks if customers buy a three-year subscription to the Safe and Sound package at $199 a year."
Swell.

"The company would not say how many of its subscribers have analog-only or upgradeable equipment. But as many as half of OnStar’s customers, or two million subscribers, now drive cars that cannot be upgraded, according to Frank Viquez, an industry analyst at ABI Research."

Now remind me again why GM is having problems with market share. Onstar is one of the few services that might entice me to look at a GM vehicle these days. Seeing how they look out for their customers probably tossed that thought away.
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Comments

  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,989
    WOW, that is interesting. If GM, doesn't take care of its customers they will lose more. I can't believe Rick Wagoner, is not addressing this problem to make sure to retain customers who buy GM, because of Onstar, and most importantly it's the right thing to do. A business blunder on GM's part. :mad:

    Rocky
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,346
    Yeah. I mean I've been ticked off enough with GM for keeping the technology to themselves and then they screw up the technology? Oy!

    I would be very happy to have Onstar. Was just waiting for them to put out a product that both met my needs and seemed appealing. Still waiting, though I'll admit that things like the G6 hardtop convertible are getting closer. Now I'm back into the I'm not sure I can rely on them track.
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,989
    Well that article sure does make somebody thinking about a GM, product wonder. I'm really surprised Wagoner, hasn't stepped in.

    Rocky
  • jrdwyerjrdwyer Posts: 168
    OnStar does have a pretty strong following, so abandoning customers with analog only hardware is somewhat damaging.

    Also, analog does provide better service coverage in areas without good cell tower abundance (rural area and a lot of the West). Of course, this is more of a carrier issue.

    Too bad they didn't think to make OnStar better. My in-laws would have kept the service after the free year had there been a phone touchpad in the car. They complained the voice system would not dial because it could not understand their slightly NE accent.

    I suppose the typical demographics of an OnStar customer shows they get a new car every 2-4 years and hence it is not a big issue to GM.
  • obyoneobyone Posts: 8,065
    Course GM could always offer free upgrades for current subscribers.....yeah right!!
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,162
    Try Comcast. I can't see HBO without a digital box! There was a message along the bottom of the screen telling me I had to convert to digital or else I won't be able to see HBO! Geeze, right before the new season of "The Sopranos" which starts April 8th!
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Yeah we had to go digital on our cable systems a while ago here if you wanted any kind of good services. I wish I could get Direct TV here in Manhattan but I am stuck with Time-Warner :(

    -mike
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,991
    GM has no control over the network. I am sure they kept the analog as long as they could. It has superior range and sounds better than any of the digital networks. It is being abandoned because it is more expensive to maintain. Plus uses more of the precious bandwidth. There are thousands of customers in rural communities that will no longer have Cell service after they shut down of analog cell service.

    The vehicles equipped with Onstar digital with have a much decreased range. To me the whole reason for Onstar is if you have a problem in a remote area. Your digital Onstar will not work anyway. Isn't progress grand????
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I still bet there is a way to put an alternate digital cellular device in that would work with the original onstar. Even if Onstar has no control over the fact that the analog system is going away, it is going to look bad for them.

    -mike
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,991
    There is no doubt GM will take the flack. Same as the little Cell companies in No-wheres-ville America. Not many folks have been able to hang onto their analog cell phones. Those that have will one day give it a try and have no service. If GM offers to update with a service contract, that should be sufficient. I have Onstar in my GMC PU truck. I have never even turned it on. The dealer tried showing me how to register and no one answered. I would not have bought it if it was not part of some package. A waste of money in my book. I would not extend the service after the year was up. Just another option that continues screwing you long after you buy the car.

    PS
    I have a salesman friend that has kept up the service on his old vehicle mount analog phone because it is the only service that works going out across the desert. He will be shot down also. Blame the FCC, Verizon and Cingular. They pushed for this and the FCC buckled to big money pressure. The Cellular system I installed in Prudhoe Bay Alaska will probably stay online. I think they are getting an emergency extension. Digital has such a limited range that it is impossible to cover the area without analog. Bandwidth is not an issue in the Arctic. Over 50% of the customer base are using analog vehicle mount phones.
  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,175
    My FIL bought a used Avalanche (06') not too long ago and he was telling me that Onstar packages can get up to as much as 110 bucks a month!?!? Who the heck is going to pay that much, when a cell phone does 90% of what Onstar can do for half the cost?

    I guess the customer service is atrocious and the signal is poor (He is on Cape Cod) to boot. Doesn't sound like something I'd waste my money on... :sick:
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    My guess is that in 5-7 years digital will go away and they'll have small SAT phones for personal use... How you like them apples?

    -mike
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,991
    The service is provided by the cellular carriers. So it should be equal to or better than a hand held low power cell phone. The most expensive service I was offered was $34.95 or $399.95 per year. That included a tie-in if I had the GPS NAV system. I did not buy any of the plans.

    I don't know about Cape Cod. I can tell you the Cell service in San Diego is anything but great. As long as you are in the line of sight of a tower it is fine. That is unless there is heavy usage. Then you get cut off. I think this whole thread is blaming the wrong entity. Tell me one Cellular company that will upgrade your analog phone for free, when the cells get shut down.
  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,175
    I think I am the last person on Earth who has never owned a cell phone but that does sound pretty cool...
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,991
    It is available now and has been for several years. The Iridium satellite network went on line in the 1990s. They promptly went broke and the DOD took it over as they were using it extensively. I know lots of companies that use them in Alaska. It is expensive but you don't lose the signal 5 miles out of town like you do with GSM, G3 or even worse the PCS 1900mhz systems. If you must be connected at all times it is the ONLY option I know of.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Oh I know they exist. But what I'm saying is the cost will come down to where they will replace cell phones at some point I think.

    -mike
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,991
    I doubt it will be soon that it will compete with land based cell service. Satellites are expensive to launch. I imagine they will retrieve and rebuild them over time. The life expectancy is about 8-10 years. It is under a buck a minute now. It was $7 per minute when they went online. We used to provide bush telephones on UHF and VHF until the sat phones came about. Even at the high cost per minute it was cheaper than installing and maintaining a bush phone. We got about $4000 per month for providing one line in a remote location. Plus a $1.80 per minute long distance. Phone service is so cheap now.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Interesting stuff, look how much it has come down from $7/min to $1/min. I remember when cell service was $1/min! I think it'll just keep coming down lower and will eventually replace land based phones, think of the infrastructure that could be eliminated, the maintenance, the salaries, etc.

    -mike
  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,175
    I think it'll just keep coming down lower and will eventually replace land based phones, think of the infrastructure that could be eliminated, the maintenance, the salaries, etc.

    Oh no, more people that will end up working McJobs or become drug dealing, riotous, prostitutes!
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,162
    Hey, we got something in common!
  • Actually, you're a bit off there. GM didn't keep the Technology to themselves. Acura, Audi, Subaru (though previously affiliated with GM), and VW all have offered OnStar in their products. Also OnStar is currently being used in Lexus vehicles under the name "Lexus Link", though it is only a name change and is in fact OnStar.

    Overall though, I have a hard time blaming GM. Their decision to use the analogue system was a good one when they started OnStar. Had it been known, at that time, that the FCC would fold like a card house and let the cell companies shut down analogue cell systems. Then you could blame them. In the late 90's when OnStar was being developed they had no indication that analogue would be going away in the foreseeable future.

    The only fault with GM I can see is that they should have provided for an upgradable system when they launched OnStar.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Anyone designing a system needs to take into account the technology behind it. I'm sure they could come up with an aftermarket box that plugs in somewhere that would allow the analog/digit conversion. They simply don't want to support it and/or don't see a need to develop it.

    -mike
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,691
    are hilarious! Every time you turn around more people are losing their jobs and being forced into a life of prostitution! :-P

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    You say this like prostitution is a bad thing! :)

    -mike
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,691
    Well apparently you have the choice of drug dealing instead, if you so choose! :-P

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • Does that mean On-Star cannot eavesdrop anymore on the analog customers once the digital change has been made?
  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,175
    My post was 100% sarcasm... :D
  • mak12mak12 Posts: 1
    I just got my "dear valued customer" letter telling me that at the end of this year my OnStar will be useless with no possible way to upgrade. This isn't the last time that communications protocol will change and GM needs to convince customers that they will provide a path to stay wired without trading in their cars. The smart engineers at GM could solve this one if they were asked to. Looks like my upgrade path is to get a Garmin gps and a bluetooth headphone for my mobile phone. Next time protocols change I can upgrade without buying a new car.
  • noobie1noobie1 Posts: 326
    Mark;
    Ditto. I got the same letter. What a cynical move with that coupon; They'll give us one year free service if we'll fork out for a new vehicle with the upgraded system. We bought the hardware to support the service and now they're essentially making it useless, as though it belonged to them. They don't seem to have any sense of loyalty to their customers, and calling us "valued customers" is shameless lip service.

    -David
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,991
    I think you will see the same kind of problem with the NAV equipment in the next few years. You already have the outdated CD NAV being phased out in favor of the DVD. It will be only a short time until you have an SD sized card that takes the place of the DVD and these companies will not feel compelled to support a system more than 3 or 4 years if that long. Blame it on the major Cell carriers. GM had little influence in the Phase out of AMPS.

    What happens when Uncle decides he does not want every Tom, Dick and Osama using the GPS system? They make a few keystroke changes and your NAV system and cell phone are inoperative. Will that be the automakers fault? It was not that long ago the the government shut down some of the satellites for security reasons. We could not get more than one satellite on our GPS clocking system. We did have a backup over the fiber to keep us talking to the rest of the world.

    Onstar AMPS has gone the way of the 8 track, cassette & LP album. It will be less time for the next phase out of something you have gotten used to using.
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