GM’s OnStar – Fading Out For Some In 2008

This is a guest post by NMA Member Bob Morrow.

General Motors’ OnStar cell phone system will be losing thousands of customers starting January 1st, 2008 due to technological changes. The OnStar system, which uses cell phone networks and GPS data to both call for help and provide location information, will not work for some customers after January 1st, 2008 due to an edict by OnStar in response to an FCC decision five years ago relating to analog cell phone systems.

Back in 2002, the Federal Communications Commission decided that the time had come to accelerate the conversion of cell phone systems from analog to digital. To effect this, they allowed (but did not require) cell phone companies to turn off their analog cell phone transmitter sites on Monday, February 18, 2008.

Because digital cell systems are much more capable and efficient, expect most analog systems to be turned off on that day or within a few weeks of it.

But, this presents a problem for some drivers of vehicles equipped with the OnStar system. When OnStar was first offered for sale in 1996, digital cell systems were new, so OnStar decided to go with analog equipment until around the 2002 model year. Guess what? If you have an OnStar-equipped vehicle made in that time frame, you can’t upgrade it to digital, so your OnStar will fade out for good on 1/1/08. If your vehicle was made between 2002-2004, it probably can be upgraded to digital, and OnStar systems made after that are already digital.

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