If you’re new to owning a Tesla, you may be wondering whether you need to pay for premium connectivity or whether there is a free alternative that will suit your needs.
The answer is that you don’t need premium connectivity, but you may want it in order to unlock extra features.
To help you decide whether standard or premium connectivity is right for you, let’s take a look at each option.
What is Standard Connectivity?
All new Teslas include Standard Connectivity for the first eight years of their life, beginning on the day of delivery.
Until recently, Teslas included lifetime Standard Connectivity, but this changed in the summer of 2022 when the company updated its terms and conditions. (To honor the previous deal, all Teslas purchased on or before July 20, 2022, retain lifetime Standard Connectivity and the eight-year limit does not apply.)
Standard Connectivity includes maps and navigation, as well as some features that are only available when connected to wifi, such as music streaming.
What is Premium Connectivity?
For those who want to get more from their Tesla, the company offers premium connectivity for a fee of $9.99 per month.
Premium Connectivity gives you access to live traffic visualizations and satellite maps. It also makes more services available via the cellular network (LTE), including video and music streaming and internet browsing.
But are these really worth paying for? Let’s look at each feature in more detail.
Maps & Navigation
It’s important to remember that standard connectivity includes maps and navigation. Even if you don’t have premium connectivity, your Tesla will connect to Google Maps and plot the most efficient route for your journey, taking current traffic levels into account.
Premium connectivity simply allows you to see traffic levels as yellow or red areas on the map, and to switch to a satellite picture if you want to.
Media & Internet
Premium connectivity allows your Tesla to stream music and video over the cellular network, giving you in-car access to platforms like YouTube and Netflix (assuming you have a Netflix subscription). It also allows you to use the car’s built-in web browser to visit websites on your touch screen.
If you regularly take breaks in your car where you want to watch movies or browse the internet, or you want to stream music as you drive, then you may find premium connectivity useful.
However, don’t forget that there are other ways to access this content in your car too, which don’t require premium connectivity. For example, you could stream music on your phone and connect the phone to your Tesla via Bluetooth.
Does Premium Connectivity mean better software updates?
The fact that premium connectivity gives more access to the cellular network (LTE) often leads to confusion and misinformation online, as people wrongly assume that premium connectivity gives access to software updates via LTE. In fact, it does not.
Premium connectivity is entirely unrelated to software updates. Whether you have standard connectivity or premium connectivity, you’ll still need a wifi connection to update your Tesla.
Is Premium Connectivity worth it?
There are two ways to look at premium connectivity when deciding whether the subscription price is worth it.
You could say that premium connectivity doesn’t enhance navigation and maps significantly, unless you really care about being able to see traffic visualizations. And will you really stream media or browse the web in your car that often? Particularly as you have a phone that can do that too? Arguably, you’re not getting much for $9.99 per month.
On the other hand, the subscription cost works out to about $0.33 per day.
For that small cost, you avoid the hassle of repeatedly connecting your phone to your car, you get a better view of every single journey you make – knowing when heavy traffic is just around the corner – you have internet access whenever you need it, and you don’t need to use your phone’s data plan to stream music or video, which could get expensive.
Ultimately the decision is yours and you need to decide whether premium connectivity is worth it for you, given how you will use your car. But overall – considering the low cost, the potential to save money on your phone’s data, and the fact that it can be useful to see traffic levels on your route – we believe it is worth investing in premium connectivity in most cases.
How to activate Tesla premium connectivity
If you decide that you do want to subscribe to premium connectivity, you can sign up via the Tesla app or on your vehicle’s touch screen.
In the app, select your vehicle and then tap Upgrades and then Software Upgrades. Next, tap Subscribe and you should see a Premium Connectivity option. Tap Add then proceed to payment.
To activate premium connectivity from your Tesla touch screen, tap Controls and then Upgrades. You will see a premium connectivity option, which you can swipe to purchase.
You will need to wait for your Tesla to perform a software update before you are able to use premium connectivity features.