BMW i models debut 5G connectivity

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The all-electric BMW iX and i4 have become the first of the company’s cars on the US market available with 5G support via the use of a ‘Personal eSIM’. An eSIM, or ‘embedded SIM’ is a SIM card built into a mobile device – cell phone, tablet, smartwatch – that allows connectivity to a cellular network without a physical, removable SIM card. The use of a personal eSIM allows a customer to add their vehicle to an existing mobile phone plan, thus taking advantage of the vehicle’s 5G antenna and enabling an in-car wi-fi hotspot. As many as 10 devices can be connected to the vehicle’s wi-fi hotspot simultaneously, providing users with high-speed internet access for mobile office work or video streaming in full HD quality.

To support the move to 5G, telecoms provider T-Mobile is introducing a service called Magenta Drive for BMW. This allows for an existing T-Mobile postpaid plan to be extended to activate the personal eSIM in the vehicle. The eSIM is linked to the user’s BMW ID, not the vehicle, so it can be transferred to other BMW vehicles that have the required functionality.

Set-up is completed via the My BMW app, and once the vehicle has been added to the plan the customer’s phone does not need to be in the vehicle to make and receive calls using their current cell phone number.

BMW notes that even if customers choose not to add their vehicle to their mobile phone plan, vehicles equipped with eSIM functionality still benefit from the low latency and high bandwidth of a 5G connection when data is exchanged between the BMW cloud and the vehicle. For example, remote software upgrades can be downloaded far more quickly than by using existing cellular transmissions.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he oversees Automotive Powertrain Technology and Professional Motorsport World magazines as editor.

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