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The package deal costs $20 per month, and the data comes from AT&T.
USA TODAY


General Motors announced a move Thursday that shows how digital power, not just horsepower, has become a major force in wooing buyers to its new cars and trucks.

The automaker announced an unlimited data plan for the 4G LTE system that turns its vehicles into mobile Wi-Fi hotspots. In the Chevrolet brand alone, more than 3.1 million vehicles have the capability that allows users to connect up to seven smartphones, tablets or other devices at a time, from distances up to 50 feet.

Starting Friday, owners of 4G-capable Chevys, Cadillacs, GMCs and Buicks will be able to pay a flat $20 a month for the service. It’s a change from current service plans for limited amounts of monthly data. At Chevrolet, the offers included a gigabyte for $10 a month, four gigs for $20 and 10 gigs for $40.

The unlimited data deal will end users’ fears of running out of data halfway through the month, said Chevy spokesman Dan Pierce.

GM says it is making the move as usage of the 4G systems has picked up. Last year, Chevrolet owners used almost 200% more data from their OnStar 4G systems than in 2015, the automaker says. That’s equal to 17.5 million hours of streaming video.

The move is in keeping with smartphone providers, many of which provide unlimited data plans as consumers are increasingly glued to their phones to send photos, video and chat with their friends.

Unlimited data “certainly has become the norm in the mobile space,” Pierce says. The new data plan represents the “first time (we’re) seeing the unlimited data trend cross into the auto industry.

GM says it is seeing big 4G usage from business people and families. Contractors and others use their cars as mobile hotspots to stay in touch with their offices, customers and other workers. Since the car’s hotspot is usually more powerful than the phones themselves, they can work more remotely.

Families are using the system for entertainment. Kids can watch streaming video on their laptop computers from the back seat, for instance.

“With the most affordable unlimited 4G LTE data plan in the auto industry…our momentum can only grow,” said Alan Batey, president of GM North America in a statement.

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