Sunday, December 23, 2007

OnStar and General Motors: Analog service ending Jan 1st 2008

For a full explanation of what's happening, see the Edmonds article:

Telematics Digital Transition Hits Speed Bump

All links pop . . .


Thanks to an FCC ruling in 2002 made with their endorsement, cellular-communications carriers no longer will be required to support their old analog-technology cellular networks beginning in early 2008. Any analog subscriber who still wants their telematics service to work has to get with the program and obtain the new technology somehow.

OnStar was launched in 1996 using proven analog technology and mainly Verizon Wireless networks, which had the broadest geographic coverage of the cellular-network alternatives at the time. But because Verizon is disabling its analog networks on January 1, 2008, OnStar can't ensure coverage to its subscribers who have analog systems after that date.

If you own a 2002~2005 GM vehicle with analog OnStar, you may or may not be able to get an upgrade to continue OnStar service. Most vehicles older than 2002 cannot be upgraded! Most newer than 2006 are already equipped with digital OnStar service.

If you use analog Onstar your service will stop on January 1, 2008 - worse it will devalue your used vehicle even if you don't personally subscribe to OnStar.

Details, helpful links to determine if your vehicle can be upgraded, and the dirt on the fine print.

1) Analog OnStar service will stop January 1st, 2008.

2) If your GM vehicle is newer than 2002 and is not already fitted with Digital OnStar service you might be eligible for an upgrade. Some vehicles were made up through 2004 that are not upgradable. Go write down your VIN and enter it on this secured (https) site to find out if your car can be upgraded:

3) Onstar Upgrade Information:

- OnStar Analog to Digital Transition and Upgrade Offer Among other things, you may have to subscribe for one additional year at $199/year plus a $15 fee for the upgrade. If you did not subscribe to OnStar in the last year and you get this upgrade, you will also be charged a $100 activation fee in addition to the subscription and upgrade fee.

- GM and OnStar FAQ.

4) However -- GM may be requiring upgraders to subscribe to three more years! I can't find confirmation beyond this leaked internal article: HTML Version, PDF Original. They may also be refusing to upgrade some cars that OnStar states are eligible . . .

5) Your OnStar phone number WILL change when you upgrade from analog to digital service.

6) This is for US only, Canada is not yet switching.

7) The upgrade may only be done at a GM dealership. You must pay your dealership all related fee's at the time of service.

8) The new digital service has a shorter effective range from any given cell tower to your car than the older analog service. It also has a smaller overall service area. This means that if your car breaks down, or you have an accident, in urban or remote areas that your OnStar service might not work. Subscribers within most metro areas and along most interstates should be okay.

9) Owners of older GM OnStar equipped cars may be out of luck both in terms of receiving service and because their used vehicle will be further devalued. GM's offer to give OnStar subscribers with older cars small credits towards newer vehicles is laughable. There is a lawsuit that is attempting to achieve class-action status. No idea of what that might accomplish, if anything . . . time will tell. The GM offers may well be better than the individual rewards from the lawsuit. Trouble is, there is no set guideline from GM to it's dealers on what offer to make - it will depend largely on your dealer and perhaps on what new car you buy.