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



  • They did come up with that very thing - a convertible system for analog to digital. And, at least from 2002 forward, every vehicle that was to have OnStar could have been equiped with the converter. GM CHOSE NOT TO DO IT. That is the long and the short of it. How far back could this be taken. I am not sure. I do know that the change to digital was known for years...however, the decision as to which specific digital system would win out was later in coming. I am sure of only one thing - all those variables were totally worked out and known in time to install convertible systems into every vehicle equiped with OnStar from 2002 forward and the decision not to had nothing to do with the cell phone companies, the federal government, the digital format, or the lack of appropriate technologies. The convertible units started appearing as the analog only inventories were fully absorbed and the production lines prepared for the changeover, period. Yes, it would have taken GM some real heroic effort to bring all models up to speed at least starting with 2002. They simply chose not to in order to maximize profits. All the rest of the blather on this forum about types of digital systems, cell phone companies, the government et al being the problem and prohibition are simple not true. There are 2002 and 2003 vehicles that have the convertible boxes - thus proving that everything had been worked out. There is an old saying in business - "just follow the money" And that is all one has to do in this case...why didn't everyone from 2002 forward get the analog to digital convertible systems? From GM's perspective, there wasn't any money in it and the math indicated that the lost and disappointed customers would be far less a financial hit than the cost of fitting every vehicle from 2002 forward with the digital converters. Why is it so hard for so many people to believe that a decision could be so callous and such a betrayal? The only remaining proof one needs is to ask yourself whether at the time of purchase you were informed and given the option to continue with the purchase or be put on a list for the next available digital-able model that you wanted. I do not know of a single person that received an honest disclosure regarding what would happen to us on 12/31/07. It was a deliberate omission. WHO KNEW? GM THATS WHO.
  • It's not the On Star system that records the data it's the PCM and BCM, they both save 10 minutes of driving data. Speed, throttle position, brake switch, seatbelt sensor, seat position, pass airbag switch, and a few others are all recorded. The PCM data is what they are downloading the info from, NOT On Star. GM has been installing these data recorders in select models since 1999, and now they all have "black boxes" On Star or no On Star, and if you have factory navigation the data recorder gets the location from there, again no On Star needed. All of the big 3 are doing this now, some if the data from the Explorer rollover lawsuit were from these type of recorders.

    If On Star is active the radio will not play, so the only way they would be able to listen and you not know about it is if you drive with the radio off.
  • I know how the TV stuff works, the set top box replaces the TV tuner and you leave the TV on channel 3. What I'm talking about is not that much different. All they have to do is come up with a box that receives digital signal and outputs it in analog format that the module can understand. You would hook to the adapter box output to the input of the On Star module and bang you're back in business. Someone needs to develop it that's all. No need to redesign a module for every model, just one box that plugs in between the antenna and the module.

    If the digital is coming in at 5.7MHz and the analog is 900 MHz the box takes the digital in, converts it and kicks it out at 900 MHz analog. I don't know the actual frequency cell phones use, I just picked these as an example.
  • They came up with a second generation box in '02 to work on either digital or analog and installed it in all redesigned models or models with a new wiring system for '02. In the convertible 2nd gen boxes the dealer removes the analog receiver and installs a digital one in the original box making it a digital only unit. They used those until gen 3 On Star was released, and that works on both digital AND analog w/o modification. Gen 4 is digital only and gen 5 is coming in '09 with the ability to put a max speed on a stolen car to 25MPH so the cops can avoid a high speed chase but the car still has all the power steering and brakes to maintain control.

    What I'm talking about is an adapter unit that would retrofit the older gen 1 units to convert a digital signal into analog. A one box fits all adapter for the gen 1 cars, this way they don't have to come up with a module that only works on one car because they all integrate into the electronics of each model different. A box from a Suburban will not plug into a Grand Am and work because it's integrated into the electronics differently.
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    the cell phone part can be replaced with a cell phone.

    The primary safety part of OnStar, which is the capability to call for help in the event of an accident is what is really lost. A cell phone can replace this function if someone in the car is still able to use the cell phone after an accident occures.

    It seems to me that GM would design an upgrade if this was easy and cost effective. But there are limits to what OnStar is worth. If upgrading an old unit would cost $5000, how many of you would pay that much?
  • quietproquietpro Posts: 702
    The primary safety feature of OnStar is the automatic call for help if you're involved in a serious accident and unable to call for yourself. A simple cell phone won't replace that feature. However, it does seem like it would be possible to bridge that feature to a modern cell phone that could be permanently mounted inside the car. If the phone also had GPS, that would also solve the location problem. Sure, it wouldn't be as elagant as the current OnStar setup, but it would be a workable solution for those who want to continue the service on their older cars.

    But, my primary beef is not with the phase out of analog but with the refusal to refund prepaid subscription fees and prepaid phone minutes that were purchased after the phase out was planned. I would be interested in knowing if anyone was advised when purchasing renewals for an analog system that the service would terminate prior to their subscription expiring. I'm betting they weren't. As I stated in an earlier post, not a lot of information is shared by the OnStar reps, even when asked a direct question. To that degree, this IS a scam. :mad:
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    So how many unused minutes do you have left?
  • I totally agree with you. I purchased a 2005 park avenue just a few months ago..Called GM and was told all vehicles in 2005 were equiped with both antalog and digital system. I purchased the vehicle for comfort and safety, being on the road. I was told today that Opps my vehicle fell into production BEFORE the 2005 production, sorry. There has got to be something someone can come up with to change this system over to digital...I feel GM owes its consumers more than a swift kick in the rear and to say sorry. OnStar however was gracious and refunded me my phone services that I purchased.
    Those people out there who think to bad you loose, have no idea what peace of mind can do where you are out on the road, with no(latest technology) phone service. My so called digital phone service is not reliable although it is the best nation wide coverage I can get. OnStar was there all the time...
  • waterdrwaterdr Posts: 307
    GM should buy that car back from you if you called them before you purchased it....that is "doing the right thing".
  • jgordejgorde Posts: 8
    OMG, a 2005 with the same issue? I just assumed that my 2003 was the last of the analogs...GM kept this going into 2005? Shame on them. And they wonder why they have fallen from grace with the consumer? Three model years after starting the conversion and they still didn't completed it! So, with a straight face, they were selling 2005's knowing full well that the system would be unusable within two years...they deserve the class-action lawsuits coming their way and they deserve to lose us as customers...WHO KNEW? GM...THAT'S WHO!
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Posts: 872
    Like I said before models that were slated for discontinuation were not upgraded to the new box, and unless there were design issues they dropped all funding for further development of these models. '05 was the last model year for the Park Ave and was on the chopping block since '02.

    Pretty much if you have a pig tail antenna on the back window or side glass of your vehicle it's analog only, it doesn't matter what year it is.

    PARK4YOU - If On Star said it was digital capable then I would say that you should be able to get a refund of some type on the car from them. If the used car dealer told you it can be upgraded I would take it back and make them give you ALL your money towards a different car. You sound like you were looking for an On Star car for a reason and they wanted to dump this car on you to make a quick sale. If you called Buick I'm not sure what to say because they don't have a list of what can and can't be upgraded and should have given you the number for On Star or directed you to the website to enter the VIN and see if it was an option. There might be some kind of action you can take there but w/o a name operator ID and date of contact it would be hard to prove.
  • 66hiway66hiway Posts: 1
    Now we all know just how much GM cares for all of us. I am not that impressed with onstar myself. This is one of many reasons: We were just behind a fatality accident on I-40 in New Mexico three years ago. I pushed the emergency button and received a message that I was not authorized to use the Plateau Cellular System. Thankfully I had my cell phone and ham radio.

    GM will not upgrade anything over a few years old because they know that the older vehicles will either be sold, traded or salvaged in short time. They are going to invest only in what will give them the most return. Yes! they could upgrade the older analog units, but that will not provide the same return that cranking out new vehicles and signing up new customers will provide.

    THE BEST THING TO DO, if you need safety and security in your older car is: either install a full powered digital cell phone with an external antenna or purchase a bi-directional power amplifier for your hand held digital phone and connect it to an external antenna. This will enable you to connect in those areas that your handheld alone can't. If you are an AT&T subscriber, you can add roadside service that follows your phone nationwide for $2 a month
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    And I assume that your OnStar subscription had not expired?
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,502
    > if you need safety and security in your older car is: either install a full powered digital cell phone with an external antenna or purchase a bi-directional power amplifier for your hand held digital phone and connect it to an external antenna.

    Examples? Pricing? Source?

    Does it use the analoge antenna on the car already for OnStar?

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,179
    Examples? Pricing? Source?

    I have installed a quite a few bi-directional dual band amplifiers. They generally cost about $400 for the amp and you would need an antenna for your band whether it is cellular or PCS. They generally stretch the range to about 50 miles from the cellsite depending on the terrain. You get better range with the Cellular 824-894 Mhz than the 1850-1990 Mhz networks. I don't know what range you can get with Onstar. I had it free for a year and never turned it on.

    We bought our equipment from this company: ular_amplifiers/
  • chicamam1chicamam1 Posts: 1
    Speaking from personal experience, My husband and I are in the market for a suburban model year between 00-02. One thing that we really wanted as a feature was the onstar service, especially the navigator turn by turn service. After looking at all the dealerships who in the description of the car say it has onstar included, what a fraud. Finding out recently, the buttons are useless. I do think the issue will be fixed in the somewhat future, but what about all these car dealerships selling these cars saying onstar is included knowing full and well the service cannot be utilized? I can guarantee we were not once told it would not work until i attempted to activate service from the suburban and found out the service isnt available. I returned the suburban just on the principal that the dealers knew the service wasnt available but yet advertised it was. This is happing all over the good ol usa now. Of course going forward, I do understand its my job as a consumer to be educated and to question these practices. Anyhow, Just wanted to share my two cents. Still going with a burb because nothing beats the room and luxury for the price.
  • waterdrwaterdr Posts: 307
    Yeah GM really laid an egg with this dissaster. I traded in my 2002 Suburban with it's useless buttons for a new vehicle (not a GM) and saw it on the lot advertised with On Star. I think this is a huge problem. In part, because some places are not honest, and in part because some place just do not know.
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Posts: 872

    Models: 1999-2004 BUICK REGAL
    2000-2005 BUICK LESABRE
    2002-2004 BUICK RENDEZVOUS
    2004-2005 BUICK RAINIER
    2005-2006 BUICK LACROSSE
    1997-2004 CADILLAC SEVILLE
    1997-2005 CADILLAC DEVILLE
    1998-2001 CADILLAC CATERA
    1998-2006 CADILLAC STS
    2003-2006 CADILLAC CTS
    2004-2005 CADILLAC CTS-V, SRX, XLR
    1999-2000 CHEVROLET LUMINA
    1999-2001 CHEVROLET BLAZER
    1999-2006 CHEVROLET TAHOE
    2000-2006 CHEVROLET IMPALA
    1999-2001 GMC JIMMY
    1999-2005 GMC YUKON
    2000-2005 GMC YUKON XL
    2001-2006 GMC SIERRA
    2002-2004 GMC ENVOY XL
    2002-2005 GMC ENVOY
    2003-2004 GMC SAVANA
    2003-2005 HUMMER H2
    2000-2004 PONTIAC GRAND PRIX
    2001-2004 PONTIAC AZTEK
    2003-2005 PONTIAC SUNFIRE
    2000-2004 SAAB 9-5
    2000-2005 SAAB 9-3
    2002-2004 SATURN LS, LW, VUE
    2003-2004 SATURN ION
    2006 SATURN VUE

    This bulletin is being revised to correct the ‘Case Type’ in the Saturn ‘Claim Information’ table to ‘SP’. Please discard all copies of bulletin 08089, issued June 2008.

    This Special Coverage bulletin is being administered in two phases. The first phase will consist of all U.S. and Canadian vehicles, except the Saab 9-3 and 9-5 vehicles. The second phase will consist of all Saab 9-3 and 9-5 vehicles. Dealers/retailers will be notified of the release of the second phase and a new bulletin will be published to include the service procedure for the Saab 9-3 and 9-5 vehicles.

    In November 2002, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled that wireless carriers would no longer be required to support the analog wireless network beginning in 2008. As a result, On Star® is unable to continue analog service.

    OnStar® has deactivated most of the systems operating in the analog mode; however, there are some vehicles that OnStar® could not deactivate. Although the analog OnStar® hardware in these vehicles can no longer communicate with OnStar®, the hardware in the vehicle is still active. If the OnStar® emergency button is pressed, or in the case of an airbag deployment, or near deployment, the customer may hear a recording that OnStar® is being contacted. However, since analog service is no longer available, the call will not connect to OnStar®. To end the call, the customer must press the white phone or white dot button. If the call is not ended, the system will continue to try to connect to OnStar® until the vehicle battery is drained.
    Special Policy Adjustment

    At the customer’s request, dealers/retailers are to deactivate the OnStar® system. The service will be made at no charge to the customer.

    This special coverage covers the condition described above until December 31, 2008.
  • We had a 03 Cadillac Seville with onstar and were able to upgrade it to work! The ruling from the fcc is what screwed this up not Gm. they ruled in 2002 that analog systems would NOT have to be kept running by cell carriers. I have been involved in 2 wrecks with vehicles with onstyar. To me it is priceless. My cell phone was broken and when that voice came thru I was so thankful. Like all systems like this it took time for it to be upgraded and to be better. Ive had mercedes and lexus with their own systems and NONE compare to Onstar. Ive driven cross country many times and Onstar helped me with everything from hotels to directions to weather and road closings! I found a 02 escalade with 50000 miles on it that cannot be upgraded. I asked what year vehicle I should look for and they said some 02s can be it just depends on the car. for some reason cars are able to upgrade better than suvs. I will not own a vehicle without it! It also actually saved our Golden Retriever when she got sick while driving from california to tennessee. They found a emergency vet for me. I LOVE onstar!
  • forsytheforsythe Posts: 2
    We have owned several GM vehicles and LOVE onstar. the first car we had with it was a 04 yukon. We had never had it before. I loved the fact it was like a safety blanket that even now cell phones dont offer. Some have gotten mad about older cars with onstar and them having a analog system. ALL technology has gone from analog to digital. There are no systems to support. They did make a upgrade for onstar on some 04 vehicles with onstar but now that they are coming out with the new nirror all you have to do is buy that. Its alot safer than a cell phone. We dont use it for navigation but for the safety. when my mother was older she had a pontiac with it and knowing if something happened the car would call out for her was priceless. and at 19 bucks a month thats nothing. Many insurance companies give discounts for having it active. We will always drive a car with onstar and keep it active. Nothing is fool proof but Ive never had problems with onstar. I can tell you it works better than my cell phone. especially when I was in a wreck and my cell was broken!
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,333
    I have no argument with people who love Onstar. I understand what it represents beyond what a cell phone does.

    My problem is with them selling a technology and then dumping it leaving their customers high and dry.

    What they should have done and claimed they couldn't at the time was retrofit the cars with analog Onstar to the digital version. As it turns out with the mirror now available for any vehicle the cost would have been in the hundreds. Most folks with the older cars wouldn't bother. Would have been a good PR move on their part. At that time GM was only about moving vehicles onto the public - not any kind of customer service.
    2013 Mazda 5 Grand Touring, 2010 Toyota Prius IV. 2007 Toyota Camry XLE, 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999 Mazda Miata
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,502
    edited April 2011
    When they went digital, because the cellphone companies and government changed, there were replacement parts to upgrade analog to digital, but it was relatively pricey. Those were for some cars that were designed near the digital appearance. And I felt that GM should have done it for free as part of a year contract at a medium price or two years.

    That's what they ended up doing in more recent years.

    >At that time GM was only about moving vehicles onto the public - not any kind of customer service.

    I believe other companies have been reluctant to replace things or parts that became outmoded. GM isn't the only company: to wit, the toyota problems of the last 8 years that they hid fairly successfully. Also there are transmissions, brake parts, engine control units that aren't working as customers should think they would.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • i just bought my 08 chevy impala LT and it has on star i went for a week with out the system and will con tinue to do so after my 6 month free subscription runs out unless i do buy it i love the onstar system tho i dont love the price
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,502
    After the subscription runs out, they will call you on landline to see if they can get you sign up again at a reduced incentive price. Wait 2-3 weeks. Be sure that you are not set up where they automatically can bill your credit card to extend it with minimal notification to you.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • forsytheforsythe Posts: 2
    Actually they did retrofit soem models once it was learned that everything was going to digital. There are cars and some suvs but mostly cars that had both analog and digital systems. Claiming GM left some people high and dry makes no sense. Thats like saying the cell phone companies are leaving people high and dry because they didnt make cell phones that were older have both systems to work. Technology changes soo quickly as we all know. Everyone is trying to keep up. The mirror is a answer for everyone who likes the system but dont own a gm vehicle or do own a car with it but the system is older. If GM left people high and dry by doiong what your claiming then so did the cell phone companies, tv companies with new digital systems and people having to buy convertors. Medicine has left people high and dry coming out with new more expensive meds that make older cheaper meds obsolete. We just bought a new 2011 gm vehicle with onstar and can control it with our phone. At some point Im sure this system will be obsolete. Everything changes like the country song says.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,333
    Tell that to the people who bought the late analog systems and found that their year or two year old used car that had been sold to the new for big bucks no longer has the safety feature they chose the car for.

    GM screwed their customers. It's bad when the cable company has better customer relations. I still have a couple of old analog sets. The boxes to convert them to digital were provided for free.

    Imid makes the point aht GM is not unique in such behavior and he is correct.
    2013 Mazda 5 Grand Touring, 2010 Toyota Prius IV. 2007 Toyota Camry XLE, 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999 Mazda Miata
  • smarty666smarty666 Posts: 1,503
    I received a free digital converter for my television when the televisions were switched from analog to a digital signal. There is no excuse for GM to had invest in doing something similar to those customers affected with the onstar situation.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    A freelance writer is working on a story about roadside emergency kits for an insurance company magazine. She’s looking for a good, personal example of why you need an emergency kit in your car -- or about that time you really you wish you'd had one. If you’d like to be interviewed, please send a brief overview of your story to Jenny at by 12/10/11.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,502
    Has anyone tried FamilyLink service from OnStar?

    I have it turned on and will try it for at least 1 month. I'd like to know what others think about it.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    What's FamilyLink? Is GM tweaking Facebook's nose a bit again?
This discussion has been closed.