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Tesla vehicles with 3G modems are starting to lose connectivity as the networks are shutting down

Early Tesla vehicles still equipped with 3G modems are starting to lose connectivity as 3G networks are shutting down, but there are still ways around it.

From the start, Tesla has made sure that its vehicles all come with an internet connection.

It was important for Tesla to deliver some connectivity features, but it was also essential for the automaker to collect data from its fleet, which proved super useful for the progress of its Autopilot system and now its Full Self-Driving Capability package.

That’s why Tesla included internet connectivity on all vehicles since the release of the Model S in 2012.

However, early Model S vehicles (pre-June 2015) were equipped with a 3G modem, and now 3G networks are starting to come offline as some cellular companies only support LTE during the move to 5G.

In a letter to affected owners, Tesla warns about the change, which is starting to affect owners:

As of February 22, 2022, your Model S will lose cellular connectivity when AT&T discontinues its 3G network. To maintain certain mobile and in-car capabilities that require data usage, upgrade to an LTE-capable modem. Without an upgraded modem, you will not be able to:

  • Remotely control climate controls, locks and charge settings
  • Get navigation and traffic updates, including Supercharger availability and outage information
  • Stream music online using your touchscreen
  • Receive remote diagnostic support from roadside assistance
  • Access over-the-air software updates

To schedule your modem upgrade for $200 USD plus tax, select Schedule Service > Upgrades & Accessories > LTE Upgrade from your Tesla app.

The $200 upgrade might sound like a lot, but those vehicles are included on Tesla’s Premium Connectivity service for life, so it’s definitely worth the upgrade.

However, if you don’t want to, you can always use your phone as a Wi-Fi hot spot.

Last year, Tesla pushed a software update that allows users to keep the Wi-Fi connectivity on when in drive, which enabled the use of your phone’s Wi-Fi hot spot.

This can be a solution, but it won’t enable remote control of the vehicle, since you want to use that when you (and your phone) or not with the car.

Electrek’s Take

I have a 2012 Model S that is still awesome. I haven’t had the LTE upgrade yet because the 3G networks in Canada are supposed to still be around for a few more years.

However, Tesla still sent me that warning.

Hopefully, the contracts with the networks in Canada are still going, but I think I’ll pay for the upgrade. With Premium Connectivity included, I think it’s worth it.

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