Internet In My Car

With wireless Internet blanketing much of the United States, you don’t have to leave the web behind when you hit the road. Whether your back seat becomes your home theaters on wheels or your passenger uses the Internet to work on the go, accessing the Internet in your car is a simple and cost effective way to change your in-car experience. Here’s what you need to know:

Internet Devices

There are several ways to connect to the Internet access in your vehicle. Among the easiest is the portable hotspot. These credit card-sized devices allow you to share high-speed Internet with up to eight different devices at the same time. Most major wireless carriers offer products and plans you can choose based on your needs. The primary advantage of a portable hotspot is the ability to share one data plan with multiple devices rather than activating data plans on each individual device.

If you don’t want to invest in another gadget, you may be able to use your smartphone as a mobile hotspot. Called “tethering,” most wireless service providers offer additional data plans that allow you to turn your smartphone into a mobile hotspot. Many portable electronic devices, such as tablet PCs, offer built-in wireless Internet connectivity. For more information on activating wireless data services on these devices, consult an automotive electronics retailer or wireless provider.

Streaming Video

One of the best uses for wireless internet in your car is for rear-seat entertainment. Are your kids tired of watching the same DVD over and over again? With Internet access in your car, your rear-seat passengers can enjoy a nearly endless catalog of online content. With a wireless hotspot connecting the kids’ iPods, gaming devices, tablets and laptops to the Internet, they’ll be able to instantly purchase or rent movies, download TV shows and play online games. If you will be streaming video or connecting multiple devices, be sure to look for a 4G data plan for your portable hotspot or mobile phone (if tethering) to ensure the highest quality experience.

Streaming Audio

Video is not the only online entertainment you can enjoy in your car. The open road is one of the best places to listen to music. Don’t limit yourself to whatever’s in your CD player or synced on your iPod. Popular music streaming services such as Pandora work seamlessly streamed over 3G and 4G connections. Smartphone apps like TuneIn Radio and iRadioSuite give you access to streams from thousands of traditional and Internet radio stations around the world. Getting streaming audio from your phone into your vehicle’s audio system can be made easy with help from your local automotive electronics retailer. With access to a virtually limitless music catalog, you’ll never have to hear the same song twice.

Other Online Content

In addition to streaming audio and video, in-car Internet can also grant you and your passengers other entertainment options. For example, download a book or magazine to your eBook reader or tablet PC. Or join in some online games or download new apps for your phone or tablet. Unless each of your devices are 3G or 4G-data enabled (and you have active data plans for each), you have no way of accessing new content, games or apps on the road. A wireless hotspot may be exactly what you need.

Powering Your Mobile Devices

Surfing the Web and streaming media on portable devices can sap power from your batteries rather quickly. If you’re going to be on the road for more than a few hours, you’ll want to be able to charge your devices in the vehicle. For one or two devices, standard vehicle chargers should get the job done. However, for a family-sized load of in-car entertainment devices, you’ll need a more robust solution. Ask your local automotive electronics retailer about a power inverter that allows you to safely charge multiple power-hungry devices using regular household power adapters.


In-car Internet opens up a world of entertainment possibilities for your trip across town or cross country. Whether streaming movies, music or other media, Internet in your car will keep you and your passengers entertained and relaxed. Use the dealer locator at the top of this page to find an automotive electronics retailer near you and make sure to ask for an MECP-certified installation technician.

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