At Least 18% of All Vehicles With Wi-Fi Are Integrated (Maybe)

When you read this blog, you get value. As the Chief Data Scientist for Wirednot LLC, I crunch numbers and I draw conclusions so you don’t have to. I’ll pie you up a chart so fine you’ll wonder what happened… but that’s besides the point. I’m here today to declare that minimally 18% of all vehicles on the road with a Wi-Fi signal might be equipped with in-built WLAN capabilities. And I stand behind behind that uncertain claim with conviction, I tellya.

The Methodology

Find yourself a busy two lane road, like Route 5 in Elbridge, NY.
route 5

Build yourself a business alongside that busy two-lane road, maybe something like this one. When you do the networking for that business, pay attention to what you see in the Air Marshal dashboard in it’s Meraki wireless system.


The Findings

Seeing that this fairly isolated establishment (no neighbors) “saw”over 1,000 outside SSIDs in a week, I was struck by how many were OBVIOUSLY automobiles and likely built-in. I went through, and counted applied an advanced algorithm to arrive at around 180 of these being safe bets as automobile-mounted Wi-Fi.

That’s 18%, where I come from, baby.

Now the Fudge Factor

In reality, at least twice of the guaranteed-auto SSIDs looked like they were “likely” car-mounted Wi-Fi, as opposed to Mi-Fi or personal hotspots not mounted in the vehicle. We’ll take half of that additional 18%, or 9%, and add it the original 18% to speculate that in reality, like 27% of all vehicles that passed the Bailiwick Cafe and Market in the last week were equipped with on-board Wi-Fi.


Of course, I could be wrong. And, I’m not really a Chief Data Scientist. But these two facts aside, feel free to use this analysis any way you’d like.

(Edited after Shay pointed out a phrasing deficiency.) 


12 thoughts on “At Least 18% of All Vehicles With Wi-Fi Are Integrated (Maybe)

  1. Welles

    Our office is at a busy intersection, on average we see a new “ford sync” wireless device, every hour each day. And, of course lots of MiFi devices.

  2. Pete M.

    Interesting! A frequently updated OUI cross-ref list can help as well. I’m seeing Volvo and Ford Explorers come & go plently ’round the homestead. Neighbor’s call to 911 resulted in 3 FD units with a whole other set of unique devices and probes! Lotsa ways to sift and tilt this data.

    1. wirednot Post author

      Thanks for reading and the comments. It would be neat to spend more time and dissect the big list to try to put a finer point on it. I’m pretty cheap, have no desire to pay for yet another data plan in my vehicle so I never really thought too much about this space. I know for “add on” 4G edge routing, Cradlepoint essentially owns the market. But not sure if the likes of Novatel are also getting some of the share of in-built vehicle Wi-Fi.

  3. Pete M.

    Lee, do you have access to the MAC addrs / BSSIDs? Some vehicles could have APs inbuilt to the Volvo/Lexus/Benz/Jag/whatever requiring a 4G LTE uplink. Others that I have seen including late model Ford Explorers are *clients* actively probing. In the latter, perhaps the purpose is to latch to your smartphone-as-hotspot and play your music via car’s entertainment system? These are clearly two different approaches to in-car WiFi. I can look more closely at my data here. Thoughts?

    1. wirednot Post author

      Excellent point, Pete. Though my ignorant-on-the-use-case brain wants to assume Bluetooth would be the dominant technology for streaming, you could well be right. The MAC/BSSIDs are in fact visible. A couple of the more jumpy-outy ones that are clearly in autos are 7861.7c (Mitsumi) and 48a9.d2 (Wistron). The Mitsumi is also in a lot of “Blahblah Hotspot” SSIDs.

      I also did see a reference in one SSID to Chrysler u-Connect.

      Clearly I have much to learn in this area…


  4. Sandra M Jensen

    I teach Technical Writing at Lane CC in Eugene, OR, and I have students find blogs in their major and evaluate them. One of my networking majors identified your site as a good example, and I have to say I agree. Your reader knows you are pretty much all about wifi. Your writing style is conversational, confrontational, and downright fun. You make outrageous claims and then you follow up with the evidence and finish with your conclusion. In an ideal world where my students see only perfection, I might like to see your images have a caption and an attribution, but you have so much right going on that I’m just going to say THANKS! You inspired at least two of us today. 🙂

    1. wirednot Post author

      Hi Sandra,
      Thanks for reading, and for the kind words. To me, in THIS blog, I do try to have fun while still providing informational value (or at least food for thought). I write professionally for several other outlets where the traditional rules and professionalism of writing prevail. I enjoy that work, but the Wirednot blog is where I answer only to me. Being a kid at heart, I can get silly at times. But I write about what concerns me, what I care about, and what I think is interesting in the general world of Wi-Fi so it’s not all fun and games despite the coat of paint I put on it at times.

      I will make use of your suggestions, and please thank your students for me as well.


  5. Shay

    What about the majority of cars that do not have any sort of Wi-Fi at all? You are not counting them in the “1012 other SSIDs”, so I think what you’re trying to say is that of all the vehicles that do have wireless (onboard, hotspot, etc.), 18% have it mounted? Which is definitely not the same as “18% of *all* vehicles”.

      1. Shay

        Thanks, just wanted to double-check. Still very interesting that about 1 out of 5 cars today has onboard Wi-Fi! I personally have a Z1 running in mine with a USB cellular modem! 🙂

Tell me what YOU think.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s