Ford offers a remarkable option to add Internet access to an auto: Unlike automakers who have signed up to build in the Autonet Mobile system, a Wi-Fi gateway with a built-in cell modem, Ford is opting for a bit of openness. Car owners with the next generation of Ford Sync (by Microsoft) coming next year can plug in their own USB broadband modems into a slot near the gear shift to enable Internet access over Wi-Fi to passengers. USB modems are offered by all carriers, including Virgin Mobile's currently unique pay-as-you-go plan.
Ford should also be praised for not just offering, but requiring WPA2 Personal security. You might want to share access with others, but not after you see your first cell data bill with overage charges on it.
By allowing a USB adapter, Ford lets a car owner who already has a 3G subscription plug in instead of adding yet another subscription fee on top.
Sync costs $395 as an optional add on, although it's included in certain high-end Ford and Mercury models. The system is designed to allow integrated use of cellular phones and digital media players, as well as provide emergency service and send car system status reports. Next year, turn-by-turn navigation will be added (three years at no cost).