New year, new car? And if yes, does it need to have in-built Wi-Fi? You might want it, but do you really need it?

Sure, it probably depends on the situation. If you’ve just set off for a drive to Scotland from the South Coast, with 3 screaming children in the back asking ‘are we there yet?’ then maybe your ‘want’ will sway more into ‘need’ – Anything to keep them entertained! Stream endless movies, provide CBeebies Playtime Island on the tablet, and ask Siri how much further you’ve got to go every.5.minutes.

Then again, if you do most of your commuting using public transport and have a city runner for grocery shopping and errands, then you probably don’t need Wi-Fi in your car. But that doesn’t mean you won’t want it!

Whether it’s a want or a need, there’s no harm in thinking about it when planning for a new car.


A car with a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot is maybe a bit of an unnecessary luxury, especially as there is an abundance of alternatives. So many of today’s new cars have smartphone integration where your phone will link to the infotainment system via Bluetooth so that you can make and answer calls through the cars speakers. If your needs consist of calls, texts and streaming music then your phone’s connectivity is probably all you need.

One up on this is a mobile hotspot device which are small, portable, and come with their own service plans and monthly fees. While they are fast and capable of serving multiple devices (needed for those kids in the back…) they do have a battery which needs recharging, and also have small antennas which limits the signal strength and consistency.

If this isn’t enough for you then built in Wi-Fi it needs to be!

Built-In Wi-Fi

Where Wi-Fi is factory-installed by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), they are designed specifically to perform in the vehicles in which they are installed. This means that the car-makers can locate the optimum place for these units to ensure efficiency. It also means they are integrated more completely with the car’s design and infotainment systems.

In contrast to the portable device, these units have significantly larger antennas meaning much stronger and more consistent signals. This is particularly important when it comes to streaming video and downloading movies or apps. They tend to provide more flawless connections with less signal fade or dropout.


Aftermarket-Installed Wi-Fi

You might be reading this having already bought a new car recently, and are now kicking yourself, wishing it had Wi-Fi built in. Not to worry! There are routers you can install into your current vehicle. While they don’t integrate with a car’s touchscreens or infotainment systems, they do have comparable connections to the OEM’s factory units. Unfortuantely however, they are rather expensive to buy and need to be installed by a professional.

Whether you want it, or do genuinely need it, there are definitely Wi-Fi options out there for you and your car.