Shop Talk: Ford Goes WiFi


No worries about staying connected to the Internet when rolling in a Ford now. Vehicles equipped with the automaker’s second generation SYNC in-car connectivity system will feature WiFi hot spots when it’s introduced next year.

To use, just insert a compatible USB mobile broadband modem or “air card” into SYNC’s USB port. Voilà!  A secure wireless connection that will be broadcast throughout the vehicle. The system provides WiFi access to the Internet anywhere the broadband modem receives connectivity in the vehicle.

“The speeds with which technology is evolving, particularly on the wireless front, makes obsolescence a real problem,” said Doug VanDagens, director of Ford’s Connected Services Solutions Organization. “We’ve solved that problem by making SYNC work with just about any technology you plug into it. By leveraging a user’s existing hardware, which can be upgraded independent of SYNC, we’ve helped ensure ‘forward compatibility’ with whatever connectivity technology comes next.”

The SYNC WiFi capability is a simple solution for bringing internet into the vehicle, versus competitive systems on the market. Being factory installed, the hardware is seamlessly integrated into the vehicle, whereas competitor’s systems are dealer installed and typically require a bulky bolt-in receiver and transmitter that take up cabin space.

Also, competitive systems cost approximately $500 for equipment and installation, not to mention the monthly subscription fee, notes Ford.

“Using SYNC with existing mobile devices helps Ford provide the most value, the most flexibility and the most convenience for owners,” said Fields. “Constant connectivity is becoming a routine part of our customers’ lives, and we’re making existing technology more accessible without adding costs. That’s the kind of value Ford drivers have learned to expect.”

How does it work? Using the SYNC WiFi system, a signal will be broadcast throughout the vehicle.

Default security is set to WiFi Protected Access 2 (WPA2), requiring users to enter a randomly chosen password to connect to the Internet. When SYNC sees a new WiFi device for the first time, the driver must specifically allow that device to connect, preventing unauthorized users from “piggybacking” on the SYNC-provided signal.

The USB port provided with SYNC will function with a variety of mobile devices, including the mobile broadband modem. Software updates are also available to connect newer mobile devices to the SYNC system.

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