First came satellite radio. Next up is a logical extension for in-vehicle entertainment — live satellite television. General Motors started offering satellite television as an accessory in new Cadillac Escalades in June.
And Avis Rent-a-Car System made the service available beginning in July as an option for travelers who rent Hummer sport utility vehicles at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
Also, the systems are available at electronics and auto supply stores for retrofitting in existing vehicles, and many Cadillac dealers will install systems in non-Cadillac autos.
The technology, which frees passengers from reliance on video tapes and DVDs for in-car video entertainment, has proven most popular with SUV and minivan owners, said KVH Industries, the Rhode Island-base company that makes the TracVision A5 satellite TV system used by Avis and Cadillac.
DirecTV provides a programming package for TracVision with more than 125 channels, including ESPN, CNN, Fox News, Disney Channel and others.
The technology is ideal for keeping backseat passengers entertained on that cross-country family outing. "It’s an accessory for the open road," KVH spokesman Bob Ochsner said.
A similar mobile satellite TV system called the SpeedRay 1000 is offered by Virginia-based RaySat, which is available online and at electronics stores. An upgraded version will be available by the middle of next year that also will provide Internet access, turning the vehicle into a rolling wireless hot spot, said RaySat spokeswoman Lynette Henley.
The RaySat system operates with programming from Dish Network.
Also working on mobile satellite TV is Iowa-based Winegard Co.