Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Cars to speed up... on the Internet

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HIGH-SPEED Internet access will be the next option for new vehicles, as wireless in Canada makes the move from homes to cars.

Toronto's Rogers and U.S. wireless carrier Sprint are teaming up to bring wireless service to automakers, potentially reaching more than one million Canadians who buy new vehicles each year, Rogers said Thursday.

Digital magazine buffet

TORONTO -- Rogers is launching a digital all-you-can-read subscription service for magazines.

Next Issue Canada will allow subscribers to pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to new and old issues of more than 100 top magazines through a tablet app, including Chatelaine, Esquire, Flare, GQ, Maclean's, the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, Sportsnet, Time, Vanity Fair and Vogue.

It's $9.99 a month for access to monthly magazines, and an additional $5 a month to also get weekly magazines. The service will be available starting Oct. 15 to Rogers wireless and cable customers, who will get a two-month free trial. On Dec. 15, Next Issue Canada will become available to all Canadians with the first month free.

A French version of the tablet app will not be available until next year.

Next Issue Canada will be competing with a very similar free alternative offered by many libraries in cities across Canada -- including Edmonton, Ottawa, Regina, Saskatoon, Toronto, Vancouver and in Quebec -- that is run by the digital magazine company Zinio.


-- The Canadian Press


Canadians at home are keen users of all types of wireless devices, from cellphones to tablets to cameras, said Mansell Nelson, vice-president of advanced business solutions at Rogers Communications, the country's largest wireless provider.

"Why can't I connect them while I'm in my car?" said Nelson.

Under the agreement, automakers deploying Sprint's Velocity platform -- developed specifically for the auto industry -- would use Rogers' wireless networks, including its high-speed Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network.

Drivers with the option could then use a touchscreen on the dashboard to access weather or accident alerts and receive customized packages of news and sports.

Internet accessibility could also open the possibility of passengers watching TV on demand while they travel, said Nelson.

The wireless option is expected to be available in mid-2014 in Canada, but there are no details on which auto brands will offer it, or how much it will add to the cost of a vehicle or Internet packages.

Several automakers, such as GM, are already experimenting with Internet connectivity in vehicles and are advertising their plans to ramp up the offering in next year's models.

But it's not an option that will appeal to all drivers, said technology analyst Duncan Stewart.

"Given how many people have smartphones already, how really necessary is this?" said Duncan, the head of research for technology, media and telecommunications at Deloitte Canada.

A CRTC monitoring report released Thursday showed that, in 2012, the number of Canadian wireless subscribers grew by 1.8 per cent to 27.9 million. More than two out of four people owned a smartphone and more than one out of four owned a tablet, according to the report.

There is also a safety issue that concerns the Canadian Police Association.

"It's not really how good of a driver you are or how well you can multi-task in a car, it's your ability to be distracted while you're engaged in these other activities," said Tom Stamatakis, president of the association.

Auto consultant Dennis DesRosiers agrees the move to make cars "communications and entertainment devices" can increase the risk for drivers.


-- The Canadian Press


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 27, 2013 B12

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