► Vauxhall wi fi tested
► Part of OnStar package
► Strong signal or patchy service?
Can you remember a time when you owned things that didn't need internet access to get the best out of them? We can't, and neither can Vauxhall. That's why every Luton chariot you can buy today has OnStar, complete with a wi fi hotspot, available as an option if not standard.
We've already tested OnStar on these Does It Work? pages, but that focused specifically on the 24-hour concierge and emergency call service. Now we're testing the mobile internet part of the package on one of the cheapest cars with the tech.
To connect, you just find the active signal on your phone/tablet/laptop/portable games console and sign into the network. We tested how fast the connection process was with an Android smartphone and an iPad.
The phone connected in seconds and was using the data connection within two minutes, while the iPad took slightly longer to gain a connection and required the browser to be closed down and restarted before the connection jumped to life.
We tested the signal strength on those two devices in three different locations: urban, suburban and the countryside. Both had a speedy signal in all three locations, capable of loading up the CAR website in a few seconds. YouTube videos loaded with varying success; on one occasion, the video stopped to buffer for about 20 seconds before restarting again without a problem.
The pricing structure is complicated. After your year's free trial of OnStar, you'll be charged £89.50 a year if you want to continue with it, but that doesn't include data for your hotspot.
You get 3GB of data or three free months (whichever comes first) then you can set up a payment plan with Vodafone: 24 hours or 1GB of data for a single trip is £5, or a rolling monthly plan of 1GB for £10 a month or 10GB for £20 a month. You can't have just a Vodafone hotspot deal and not the rest of the OnStar service; if you don't have a subscription to OnStar, you can't use the hotspot.
Vauxhall promises strong 4G signal across a huge amount of the UK, apart from a few hefty dead spots – parts of Wales around Snowdonia, Northumberland and Scotland. Bear in mind, though, that you are still at the mercy of the internet service provider, so you'll be subject to signal issues just as much as any other Vodafone customer.
Three steps to getting there faster
Are you receiving?
Find out the hotspot's signal name through the OnStar settings menu
Cracking the code
Switch your device's wi fi on and log in using the OnStar details
Home from home
Browse, hashtag and stream to your heart's content (data limit permitting)
Did the Vauxhall wi fi hotspot work?
Yes. It works just like any wi fi router you've ever connected to, so the process is the same as the one you have at home. The ignition does have to be on for the wi fi connection to be active, which means only your passengers should be using it while you're driving. It's just as fast as any strong 4G connection and manages to work in a significant amount of the UK.
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