TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Analog Cell Phone Service - What About OnStar?

Re: Analog Cell Phone Service - What About OnStar?

J Kelly (jkelly@*
Thu, 28 Jul 2005 12:06:01 -0500

On Wed, 27 Jul 2005 12:22:36 -0700, John L. Shelton
<> wrote:

> When OnStar (from GM) was announced some years back, it was said to
> operate on the analog cell phone network. GM claims that since 2004,
> they started using Digital/Analog radios. So it seems there's a large
> fleet of cars out there that will be crippled with the coming death of
> analog cell phone service.

> John

Yes, many OnStar equiped vehicles will be crippled ... from OnStars

Since it was launched in 1996, OnStar has relied on an analog wireless
network to provide communication to and from OnStar-equipped vehicles.
Today, the analog network continues to provide the most extensive
coverage across the United States and Canada. However, wireless
carriers in the U.S. and Canada are in the process of transitioning
their networks from analog to digital technology.

In November 2002, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
ruled that wireless carriers will no longer be required to support the
analog wireless network as of early 2008. As a result, beginning
January 1, 2008, OnStar service in the U.S. and Canada will only be
available through vehicles equipped with dual-mode (analog/digital)

Q1. What different types of equipment do OnStar-equipped vehicles

A1. All OnStar-equipped vehicles have one of three types of

Analog-Only: OnStar-equipped vehicles with analog-only equipment were
designed to operate only on the analog wireless network and cannot be
upgraded for digital network compatibility. Vehicles with this
equipment will no longer be able to receive OnStar services beginning
January 1, 2008. At that time, service will be available only through
dual-mode (analog/digital) equipment. Analog-only vehicles cannot be
upgraded to digital equipment.

Analog/Digital-Ready: OnStar-equipped vehicles with analog/digital-
ready equipment operate on the analog wireless network, but were
designed to be upgraded to dual-mode (analog/digital) equipment when
available for that vehicle. Beginning January 1, 2008, OnStar service
will not be available on these vehicles unless the OnStar equipment
has been upgraded to dual-mode (analog/digital) equipment.

Dual-Mode (Analog/Digital): OnStar-equipped vehicles with dual-mode
(analog/digital) equipment operate on both the analog and digital
wireless networks and will not require an upgrade in connection with
the wireless industry's transition to the digital network. Q2. What
kind of hardware does my OnStar-equipped vehicle have? A2. To
determine the equipment type in an OnStar-equipped vehicle, you may:

* Press the blue OnStar button in the vehicle and ask the OnStar
Advisor to identify which equipment type was factory-installed in the
* Call OnStar toll-free at 1.888.206.0031, or to contact us
online, click here. (Please have your OnStar account number or your
vehicle identification number (VIN) available.)

Q3. How does the transition to the digital network affect me right

A3. You don't need to do anything at this time. Your OnStar
equipment will function as it always has until January 1, 2008. The
analog network still offers the most extensive coverage available in
the U.S. and Canada. In addition, the FCC ruling requires wireless
carriers to support the analog network until early 2008.

Q4. Will I still be able to get an OnStar subscription after
January 1, 2008?

A4. OnStar service will be available to vehicles with dual-mode
(analog/digital) equipment. If you currently have analog/digital-ready
equipment, it will need to be upgraded to dual-mode (analog/digital)
equipment to continue service as of January 1, 2008. (Refer to
Question #7 for additional information.) If your vehicle has
analog-only equipment, however, you will not be able to upgrade the
equipment nor will your vehicle be able to receive OnStar service as
of January 1, 2008. (Refer to question #2 to determine which type of
equipment was factory-installed in your vehicle.)

Q5. Will my OnStar-equipped vehicle's analog-only system still
work after January 1, 2008?

A5. No. As of early 2008, wireless carriers will no longer be
required to support the analog network. As a result, beginning January
1, 2008, OnStar will offer all services, including OnStar Hands-Free
Calling, only through dual-mode (analog/digital) equipment.

Q6. Digital service has been around for a while - why does OnStar
still utilize analog service?

A6. When OnStar was launched in 1996, analog provided the most
extensive and reliable wireless coverage available for nationwide
service. Even today, analog continues to provide the widest range of
coverage across the U.S. and Canada. Vehicle manufacturers are now
producing most OnStar-equipped vehicles with dual-mode
(analog/digital) equipment, and are expected to produce only dual-mode
(analog/digital) OnStar-equipped vehicles by 2006.

Q7. Will a digital upgrade program be available for subscribers
with earlier versions of hardware?

A7. Each vehicle manufacturer will determine whether it will offer
an analog-to-digital transition plan for subscribers who have
analog/digital-ready OnStar equipment and are interested in upgrading
to digital equipment. To learn more, click here.

Q8. Where do I go with questions about the FCC ruling that
wireless carriers will no longer be required to support the analog

A8. For more information about the FCC ruling, visit, or
click here for a downloadable version of the ruling. For the latest
information about the OnStar analog-to-digital transition plan, please
continue to visit

Q9. What is the FCC?

A9. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is a U.S.
government agency charged with regulating interstate and international
communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. The
FCC's jurisdiction covers the 50 United States, the District of
Columbia and U.S. possessions.

Q10. How does the FCC ruling impact OnStar in Canada?

A10. Since most Canadians live within driving distance of the
U.S./Canadian border, OnStar needs to be able to provide the same
service in both markets. The FCC ruling is a U.S. regulation, and no
date has been set for ending analog service in Canadian provinces.
However, wireless carriers in Canada have made the determination to
follow suit and have begun their transition from analog to digital
networks as well. Therefore, beginning January 1, 2008, OnStar
services in the U.S. and Canada will only be available through
dual-mode (analog/digital) equipment.

Q11. What are wireless carriers?

A11. The independent wireless communication companies that hold
cellular broadcast licenses in various areas are called wireless
carriers or wireless service providers. OnStar relies on a nationwide
wireless network of these carriers to provide communication to and
from all OnStar-equipped vehicles.

Q12. What is analog?

A12. Analog wireless service transmits voice on a continuous radio
wave using frequency modulation similar to an FM radio, and operates
in the 800 MHz frequency range. All 800 MHz analog systems operate
under a common industry standard, known as Advanced Mobile Phone
Services (AMPS).

Q13. What is digital?

A13. In a digital wireless system, voice is converted to a digital
signal and then transmitted over air. Digital wireless service
operates in both the 800 MHz and 1900 MHz frequency range. The three
dominant systems in the U.S. and Canada are CDMA, GSM and TDMA.
OnStar-equipped vehicles with dual-mode (analog/digital) hardware have
been engineered to work in the 800 MHz frequency for analog or CDMA
digital networks, in addition to the 1900 MHz CDMA digital networks.

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