3G-only Teslas to lose connectivity due to AT&T. What you can do

By Nuno Cristovao

First, we have to start off with the positive here, as this isn't Tesla deprecating older vehicles. It's due to AT&T turning off their 3G network, which Tesla uses.

Huge props to Tesla for maintaining cars for so long. Unlike many other tech companies, they don't add vehicles to a vintage or obsolete list. Tesla still delivers updates to the original 2012 Model S cars today. For free. 9 years later.

Early Tesla vehicles to lose cell connectivity

And support isn't ending yet. Tesla will continue to support these vehicles with software updates over WiFi.

There's no other manufacturer on Earth that would do that. We as consumers are always pushed to the newest models. Not always because of hardware advancements, but because manufacturers often only make new features available on new models.

The reason some older Teslas are losing cellular connectivity isn't any fault of Tesla's. It's a matter of technology just moving on. In the US, all Teslas connect to AT&T's cellular network. It has been this way since the original 2012 Model S. Back then 3G provided some of the fastest speeds over cellular and most cellular connected devices used 3G modems, including the modem in early Teslas.

Unfortunately, starting in February next year, AT&T is turning off their 3G service across the country. Cellular data will only be available on LTE and 5G.

This problem isn't unique to Tesla. Any device unitizing AT&T's 3G network will fail to connect come next year. This includes other devices like older cell phones and cellular iPads.

An always available data connection is one of the big reasons Teslas are popular and exciting. You can stream music, browse the web, turn on your climate remotely and receive real-time traffic. It'll even notify you if any doors or windows are left open. So when this connection goes away, it does take away part of the appeal the car initially had.

Luckily for owners, Tesla is giving owners plenty of options here, some free, some not so free, but a good value nonetheless.

Connect Via WiFi

First, your car will not be obsolete, Tesla will continue to provide updates to your vehicle. The cellular modem may be outdated and unable to connect, but your car will still be able to connect via WiFi to your local network.

All the functions your car was able to perform over it's cellular network will still be able over Wi-Fi, which includes downloading software updates. Of course, WiFi doesn't do you much good if you want to stream music while driving.

Connect Via Hotspot

With software update 2020.48.37.8, Tesla added some new capabilities to help with this transition and give owners more choice. Teslas normally turn off WiFi once you shift into Drive or Reverse, since it's no longer needed. However, with this update, Tesla introduced 'Remain Connected to Wi-Fi in Drive', a mouthful of a name, but a great feature. This allows your car to keep WiFi on after shifting into Drive. This will allow owners to share their phone's data connection with the car via a hotspot.

Using a hotspot connection will give your Tesla the same capabilities it had when connecting over a cellular network since these cars have a lifetime subscription to Tesla's Premium Connectivity package. Even though you'll be using a hotspot to connect, you'll remain with access to satellite-view and traffic visualization, which is normally not available when using a hotspot (when you're not subscribed to Tesla's Premium Connectivity).

Modem Replacement

Since it's only the cellular modem that is outdated, Tesla will be offering an option to get it replaced with a LTE and presumably 5G capable modem, giving your car many more years of a cellular connection, which is likely to outlast the car.

Tesla will be offering the cellular modem replacement for a very reasonable fee of $200 in the US.

Upgrading MCU

Lastly, there is another option that Tesla is offering that will give you more than just a modern modem. You'll be able to upgrade the MCU in the vehicle and not only upgrade the cellular modem, but also the WiFi chip, and the processor that powers the media center.

At this point, technology has evolved quite a bit and using the touch screen on a MCU 1 vehicle has become quite slow. Upgrading the MCU will provide a much better experience on par with the latest Model 3 and Model Y vehicles.

Upgrading to MCU 2 will also bring a slew of new features that haven't been available in MCU 1 vehicles because of its limited processing power. Adding the MCU 2 introduces features such as Tesla theater, many games such as Sky Force Reloaded and Cuphead, improved driving visualizations, Tesla Caraoke, an improved web browser and more.

The price of upgrading your MCU is quite a bit more expensive, but you do get a whole lot more as well. Although all the new features are nice, the biggest is the improved performance and responsiveness of the touch screen.

The cost to upgrade the MCU to MCU 2 is $2,000, which includes parts and labor.

Which Cars are Affected?

Only vehicles equipped with a cellular modem that is only capable of a 3G connection are affected. If your vehicle has an LTE or LTE and 5G modem, then you remain unaffected. Tesla used 3G-only modems up until 2015.

If your Tesla was built before June 2015 and you haven't upgraded your MCU, then you may be affected. You can reach out to your local service center to confirm whether AT&T's decision to disable its 3G network will affect your vehicle.

View Your Cellular Modem

In update 2020.48.37.8 Tesla is also displaying additional information about your car's modem to you. If you navigate to Controls > Software and tap 'Additional Vehicle Information', your car will now display what kind of modem your car has installed and which cellular networks it's able to connect to.

We hope this will be a feature that will be rolled out to other vehicles as well. Some vehicles feature LTE only modems, while others contain 5G modems as well. Letting owners know which modem is in their vehicle and which networks it can connect to is a worthwhile addition.

Tesla Begins Testing FSD in China

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Tesla was recently granted permission to test FSD on Chinese streets – specifically in Shanghai. Just recently, Elon Musk visited China and discussed the potential for FSD to come to China.

Gearing Up for FSD China

This is just the first step for Tesla to begin its customer deployments of FSD – Tesla conducts similar ADAS testing in North America, where special testing vehicles and testing employees run the latest FSD (Supervised) versions against a gamut of real-world, real-life tests.

Tesla has recently been working on translating FSD release notes into multiple languages, alongside building a data center in Shanghai and establishing an FSD Operations and Labelling team at the same center. These are the first, key steps to bringing FSD to a new market that has unique and different traffic rules when compared North America.

China doesn’t have the regulatory hurdles or challenges that Tesla faces in Europe to bring FSD and has been working with Chinese corporations as well as the government, which has now provided its official approval for FSD testing in-country.

We might even see FSD deployed to early testing customers in China by the end of 2025.

ADAS Competitors

There are quite a few competitors in the Chinese market already- with challengers like Xpeng and Xiaomi working on building their own homegrown systems, mostly driven by a mixture of cameras, radars, ultrasonic sensors, and LIDAR. However, many of these systems face similar challenges to other non-Chinese competitors and don’t have the mileage under their belts to tackle Tesla’s dominating lead in data and data processing.

European Union

Tesla is poising itself for an FSD rollout internationally, with increased testing also taking place in the UK, France, and Spain – some of the key locations with unique infrastructure in the European Union. However, some EU-specific regulations restrict how FSD can perform – each and every action must be manually approved by the driver. Until that regulation is changed to adapt to systems like FSD, it won’t be making its way there just yet.

Tesla Cybertruck to Receive Charging Improvements in Upcoming Update

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Former Tesla VP of Powertrain and Energy Drew Baglino previously mentioned that Cybertruck would be receiving charging improvements soon.

Wes Morrill, Tesla’s Cybertruck lead engineer, recently reposted Baglino’s comments on the charge speed update on June 16th and mentioned that it would be coming soon via OTA.

Charging Improvements

The 4680 cell has seen some difficulties in its charge curve, similar to Tesla’s other vehicles that have been deployed with the 4680. Tesla has alluded to difficulties in the manufacturing curve previously, and also with engineering improvements to the new cell standard, and eventually stopped manufacturing the Model Y with the 4680 cells.

However, this is the first time that Tesla has begun to deploy major improvements to the 4680 cell. It appears the improvements will allow up to 154 miles to be recovered in 15 minutes, which is approximately a 30% improvement to current charge rates.

We’re hoping that these improvements to the 4680 will also translate to older Model Y vehicles that have 4680 cells, which will be key to the owners of these vehicles. 4680 production is currently mainly focused on Powerwall, Megapack, and Cybertruck – with Semi not using 4680 yet.

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