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Upgrade car to LTE or get a mobile hotspot?

Discussion in 'Model S' started by BrettS, Apr 9, 2017.

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  1. BrettS

    BrettS Member

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    I just bought a 2015 Model S and unfortunately it only has 3G connectivity. I have been strongly considering upgrading to LTE, but it looks like that's about a $600 upgrade. Tonight I happened to see the ZTE Mobley hotspot on AT&T's website and it looks like I could get one of those and add it to my existing plan for only $10/month. If I connect the car to that then essentially I'll have upgraded the car to LTE and at $10/month it would be 60 months before the break even point. And quite frankly, I suspect that I'll have sold this car and upgraded to an AP2 car before 60 months. The hotspot has other advantages too, such as a connectivity for a cloud enabled dashcam.

    Is there anything I'm missing here? Any strong advantages one way or the other? I'm not too worried about data usage of the car... my plan has 30G of shared data and I don't think we've ever gone over 20G. I don't see the car using anywhere near 10G a month.
     
  2. EVCarGUy

    EVCarGUy Member

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    A recent (6 month?) software update disconnects WiFi as soon as you shift out of Park. So, your plan won't work if you want to use it while in motion.
     
    • Like x 2
  3. BrettS

    BrettS Member

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    Hmm, well that's certainly good to know. In motion would definitely be a significant portion of my use.
     
  4. Patrick W

    Patrick W Active Member

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    I had a 2015 S and paid for the LTE upgrade. There was some improvement but not really worth the cost.
     
    • Informative x 1
  5. oktane

    oktane Active Member

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    What are you trying to improve? Even with LTE, the browser is painfully slow. The streaming music works well. If that doesn't work on 3G I guess it makes sense to upgrade. I like the idea of an LTE hotspot, personally. The $600 will pay for a year of service.
     
    • Like x 1
  6. msnow

    msnow Active Member

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    Pay for the LTE upgrade, it's worth it although I thought it was closer to $500.
     
  7. bmah

    bmah Obscure Member

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    Part of that change being discussed was reverted. I believe what happens now is that when you shift into reverse or drive, your car drops WiFi and goes to 3G (or LTE as the case may be). You can manually select a WiFi network with your car in reverse or drive however.

    The rationale for this behavior was (of course) never explained, but forcing the car to 3G or LTE prevents your car from trying to hold onto your home WiFi as you drive away. I think that the requirement for manually selecting a WiFi network prevents your car from joining random WiFi networks as you're driving along (or something like that). It's been awhile since I thought about this, so I might have gotten some of the details wrong. (But there was a discussion here on TMC.) The hotspot use case doesn't seem to be supported really well by the car's behavior, but I think you could work around this if you really wanted.

    FWIW my car is an April 2015 build (just missed LTE by a few months), and I did spring for the LTE upgrade. It was a shade over $500 at the Dublin service center.

    You didn't say why you were considering the LTE upgrade. In my case, it was to get better coverage in some places where I regularly drive. Faster network performance wasn't really a factor for me...I guess the most noticeable performance improvement for me is with the map tiles. Even then, you shouldn't expect a night-and-day improvement in any part of the Tesla's network applications.

    Another possibility would be to have the car use your smartphone as a hotspot (my iPhone 6S on AT&T can do this, YMMV). I've done that on occasion too.

    Bruce.
     
    • Informative x 1
  8. JPUConn

    JPUConn Member

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    I recently switched to Verizon unlimited data that includes wifi hotspot and setup as wifi in my car. I've selected this while in motion and as others have stated there is not a noticible difference. The browser really seems to be the smalllest pipe in the problem.

    My 2013 is 3G and never had an issue streaming music.

    The internet browser is a novelty to me as it's painfully slow regardless of wifi, 3G or LTE in a loaner I had.

    Navigation maps load slowly on 3G I will have to test if that's faster on LTE powered Wifi hotspot.

    I like the newer feature to drop wifi when selecting a gear as my car would try to hold onto my home wifi until half way up the block (not useful).
     
  9. davidc18

    davidc18 Active Member

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    The LTE is a waste of money (have one of each). The screens are painfully slow either way. I never would have thought that in 2017 the main screen would still be running on the original 2012 hardware.
     
    • Like x 2
  10. bob_p

    bob_p Active Member

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    We have a 3G S P85 and a new LTE S 100D, and really can't tell any significant difference between the performance.

    For now, whether using 3G, LTE or WiFi, it appears the primary bottleneck is the onboard software - and not the performance of the network connection, at least in most cases.

    Hopefully the promised (but not yet delivered) kernel/browser upgrade will help.

    Based on our experience with 3G vs. LTE, would not recommend the LTE upgrade, at least until there is a software update that can take advantage of the higher LTE bandwidth.
     
    • Like x 1
  11. HankLloydRight

    HankLloydRight Fluxing

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    I found the LTE upgrade to be well worth it in two differents cars, primarily for nav map loading.

    The browser sucks no matter what. I don't stream music that much, but haven't had any problems.

    Everyone has a different, possibly regional, experience.
     
    • Like x 1
  12. BrettS

    BrettS Member

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    Well, that's good to know, but definitely not what I'm looking for. I'd consider the hotspot solution, but not if I need to manually select it every time.

    I'm in about the same boat. Mine was built in March of 2015. I've got to bring it into a service center in a week or two for a few things... I ordered the new integrated center console with the rear cup holders (I can't believe I'm paying $1200 for two cup holders, but unfortunately with kids rear cupholders are a must and I really didn't like any of the other third party options (and I spent a lot of time looking)). I also noticed that the driver's side auto dimming mirror doesn't seem to work (the other mirrors dim as expected) and one of the frunk latches seems to have issues. Sometimes when I release the frunk it pops up and I can open it and sometimes it gets stuck in a limbo where it seems like one latch has released and the other hasn't and I need to try to trigger the release again as I pull up to get it open. I'll probably look into having them do the LTE upgrade at the same time.

    For me faster map tiles is probably the driving factor. I tend to use the navigation wherever I go and I've found that in a lot of cases I'll outdrive the tiles and just wind up with a blank or nearly blank nav screen. The browser is more of a novelty and I don't really see a big use case for it right now (although the other day I was inflating my tires and as I finished I discovered that my 10 year old was inside the car using the browser researching fish that he wants to add to our reef tank)

    I can do this as well, but as I said above I don't want a solution that requires manual input every time I drive. However, I'm thinking it might be a good idea to try this for a few drives to just set my expectations. I can connect to my phone's hotstop and see if or how much of a difference it makes drawing the map tiles. If it's not significant, then I leave the car as it is and save $500. If it helps then I can decide if it's worth spending $500 to make that happen all the time.
     
  13. msnow

    msnow Active Member

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    It's not just that it speeds up the map tiles refresh (which it does) but there's more range with LTE than 3G.
     
  14. Lukez

    Lukez Member

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    Just a suggestion, create a hotspot on your phone to "test" LTE performance doing the same drive with and without the LTE and see if you notice a difference. That way you will know if LTE will work better for your specific case.
     
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  15. Jashev

    Jashev Supporting Member

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    I upgraded to LTE to get better coverage in fringe areas. It works well for that. I also have a premium Slacker account and found it better for streaming at higher bit rates. I didn't think this a bad investment for the convenience.
     
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  16. hsglia

    hsglia Member

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    I upgraded to LTE earlier this year. I would call it a waste of money. In fact I have morevoutages on LTE then I had on 3G. there certainly has notbbeen asingle occasion where i thought the system was working faster or better. So i suggest saving the $600.
     
  17. Lasttoy

    Lasttoy Member

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    My T mobile rep said only difference in 3g and LTE might be it uses 4g speed,
    He showed me on my cell. The tower signal is the same, 4 bars, 4g downloads faster than 3g,
    He said it depends on how far I am from cell tower. I was told tesla uses At&T service?
     
  18. Jashev

    Jashev Supporting Member

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    They do use AT&T. After I upgraded to LTE, I ran a speed test on the browser. I was getting 235kb with 3G and got 3.4MB with LTE. Seems pretty straightforward.
     
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  19. HankLloydRight

    HankLloydRight Fluxing

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    I'm going to say it again.. there are so many factors that influence perceived download speed that there is no one right answer with respect to the LTE upgrade. It's going to suck for some people, and be amazing for others. And that could flip-flop the very next day or the next hour.

    I've seen remarkable increases in Nav map tile redraw and overall responsiveness, and significantly increased download times tested in the browser (that's about all it's good for!) in two different cars I've paid to have the upgrade done (P85+ and P85D).

    So if you're considering paying the $500 for the upgrade, don't go by what anyone here posts (including me!).. as it could go either way for anyone depending on where you live, the weather, local cell traffic, sunspots, or 10 other reasons.

    You decide if it's worth $500 for a known hardware upgrade and a potential [or significant] increase in download speed which really only affects Nav map tile redraws and music streaming (which I don't use all that much, so I have no input on that).
     
  20. artsci

    artsci Sponsor

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    Not the case with my ZTE Mobley. It stays connected all of the time.

    Hank, I recommend the Mobley. I did the LTE upgrade but gained speed with the Mobley.
     

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