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Mar 25, 2021
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I own a 2015 BMW which I ordered with various "ConnectedDrive" features. Some of these features like navigation with real time traffic require a data connection which BMW supplies through the use of cellular equipment in the car and, through the 2016 model year, a 3G data plan with AT&T. In newer model cars, BMW switched to 4G. Some of these features require an annual subscription.

In or before 2020, AT&T announced it will shut down all 3G service in the US in February 2022. It appears that BMW made a decision based on this information to quietly shut down the annual re-subscription of yearly service for real time traffic if the subscription for that feature had lapsed prior to February 2021. My subscription had lapsed 10 days before this. When my subscription had lapsed in prior years, I was able to call BMW and re-subscribe for the annual fee. But not this time. BMW had made no announcement beforehand that they would be cutting off my RTTI re-subscriptions after January 2021. So I no longer have use of real time traffic - a feature I used frequently.

When I talked and wrote to National BMW Customer Relations representatives about this, I received an e-mail from them stating that my ConncecteDrive services could no longer be renewed and that my car can't be retrofitted to provide newer technology which would allow a continuation of these services. They also state that other features will continue until they expire, however, some of these features are SAFETY features (like Emergency Call) and have no expiration date. I have been told these use 3G. So based on this, I believe that in addition to having already lost a feature I purchased when I ordered the car, I will, in the next 10 months, lose safety features as well.

In researching this, it turns out BMW has had this situation occur 7+ years ago when the carriers shut down 2G services. Owners of BMW cars equipped with 2G equipment were offered a retrofit to 3G, in many cases at no cost, through their BMW dealers. But at this point, it appears BMW is unwilling to give the owners of cars with 3G equipment the same courtesy.

I have sent emails to the three BMW executives listed on the Elliott Advocacy site. I received an indirect response from only one of them, and that was a restatement of the email mentioned above. I have received no other responses. My Dealer is in the dark on this matter as well.

What I am asking BMW to do is restore my ability to re-subscribe to real time traffic now. 3G is still active until next February. I am also asking them to provide a 4G retrofit or other solution to assure that Real Time Traffic and all of the other ConnectedDrive and Safety related features on the car will continue to function into the future. I am not asking for BMW to do anything more than they have proven they had the capability of doing in the past to rectify this kind of problem.

I look forward to any help you can offer.

Thanks!
 

VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
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Given that you have appealed to the highest level within BMW, the only recommendation I can offer is to purchase a third-party GPS device like a Garmin. The last time I checked, they were offering a 7-inch model.

This should more than meet your needs, and if it fails you can easily replace.
 
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Reactions: jsn55
Apr 27, 2018
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Well you car is not almost 7 years old and technology does get out of date. Have you thought to a car audio place to see about getting an aftermarket system installed that has all the new features? I wouldn't expect any other tech device to still be up to date after that length of time
 
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Reactions: AMA

VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
4,029
6,268
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Further research has revealed that BMW offers an OEM Combox 4G that is supposedly available through dealers. Allegedly, ou would pay for installation and then have a new contract.
 

Comicman

Jul 13, 2020
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Can you just use your cell phone to either make a hot spot for your car or blueTooth to connect to. I understand the built in apps might no longer work ( or maybe they will work) but I am sure there are many apps out there that would do the same or similar things.
I will add I will bet that in a few years all these 4G cars will not get supported any more as 5G will be the norm.
 
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Reactions: msmayor
Mar 25, 2021
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Thanks for your replies. Unfortunately, third party solutions don't address the anticipated loss of safety features which are built into the car. In the case of an accident, these collect data and location and call a BMW Emergency call operator automatically. Use of a cell phone might help if you were in a position to use it in an accident. Use as a hotspot would require BMW to make that possible and allow subscriptions to RTTI through those means. VoR61, the Combox you discuss above sounds interesting. Do you have any details on that? I know of two other BMW owners beside myself whose dealer Geniuses and Service Advisors have received no guidance from BMW on retrofits.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jsn55
Nov 27, 2019
183
500
93
Can you just use your cell phone to either make a hot spot for your car or blueTooth to connect to. I understand the built in apps might no longer work ( or maybe they will work) but I am sure there are many apps out there that would do the same or similar things.
I will add I will bet that in a few years all these 4G cars will not get supported any more as 5G will be the norm.
4G probably has about 10 years to run, potentially more.
 
Nov 27, 2019
183
500
93
Thanks for your replies. Unfortunately, third party solutions don't address the anticipated loss of safety features which are built into the car. In the case of an accident, these collect data and location and call a BMW Emergency call operator automatically. Use of a cell phone might help if you were in a position to use it in an accident. Use as a hotspot would require BMW to make that possible and allow subscriptions to RTTI through those means. VoR61, the Combox you discuss above sounds interesting. Do you have any details on that? I know of two other BMW owners beside myself whose dealer Geniuses and Service Advisors have received no guidance from BMW on retrofits.
Googling "bmw 4g combox" comes up with a lot of forum posts about it.
 
Mar 25, 2021
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Using the keyword "combox" in searches does open up more results than I had seen in my initial research.
Just yesterday, I received an email from BMW referencing my email to the CEO of BMW North America. Attached was a FAQ addressing the 3G Cellular Technology Discontinuation. BMW is offering complementary extensions to customers whose Connected Drive subscriptions expire between February 2021 and February 2022. The FAQ also states that information about a technology upgrade will be available shortly.