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Author Topic: OnStar Emergency, sure it costs more than using your cellular phone
BeachLife
The Bills of St. Mary's


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Anyone out there know anything about On-star?

I keep hearing their commericals advertising how great On-star is because it can get emergency servies. So they use cellular telephone technology so that you can talk to someone who can dial 911 on your behalf? Why is that so much better than dialing 911 on my own? It certainly not any faster, nor is it cheaper. And modern cellular phones have built in GPS technology for use with 911 systems so giving a location isn't much help either.

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kathryn
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I think their main advertising point is for the situations when the victim of an accident CAN'T use their own cell phone...

a crash where they are knocked unconscious, for example, or their phone is somewhere they can't reach it... if the airbag is deployed the OnStar representatives "page" into the car to see the status of everything.

I have no personal experience with it, however.

Kathryn

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Rob D / Blackwolf, the yule dodo
Deck the Malls


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Onstar activates itself when your airbag deploys. This means, if you have an accident where you cannot use your cellphone anymore, OnStar would call you through their system, if you dont respond (or if they just hear your groan) they would alert 911.
Also, if you forgot your key in the car, you could call them (through the cell phone as example) to unlock it by remote.
If the car got stolen, onstar could track where it is and report that to the police.
Also if you dont know where you had your car parked (big parking lot, fuddle brain, etc) you can call them and they beep the horn and flash the lights for you.
And they can do a diagnostics (through the board computer) of your car.

Dont have OnStar myself, but I do see the good sides in it.

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Not_Done_Living
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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I have it.. and it is very good.
If your car won't start.. hit the button and they can run diagnostics.
Car gets stolen. .they can locate and track it.. even shut it down.
Get into an accident and end up in a ditch unconcious.. be sure that they would find you and be able to help you out.

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BeachLife
The Bills of St. Mary's


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I was just referring to the emergency services package which is a smaller subset of the greater functionality available. It is my understanding that, there are 2 or three packages avaialable with different services offered

I can see where it would be advantagous when one gets in an accident, within cellular phone range, where they are knocked unconscience, the air bag is deployed, but the battery or connecting cables are not damaged. How often do you suppose that happens though?

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GenYus
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quote:
Originally posted by BeachLife:
So they use cellular telephone technology so that you can talk to someone who can dial 911 on your behalf? Why is that so much better than dialing 911 on my own?

On-Star has better connection than portable cellular phones. It might be just that they have more wattage or a better antenna, but my fiance can use On-Star at her parents house in the hills of West Virginia even though no cell phone works unless you climb to the top of the ridge.

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BeachLife
The Bills of St. Mary's


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quote:
Originally posted by GenYus:
quote:
Originally posted by BeachLife:
So they use cellular telephone technology so that you can talk to someone who can dial 911 on your behalf? Why is that so much better than dialing 911 on my own?

On-Star has better connection than portable cellular phones. It might be just that they have more wattage or a better antenna, but my fiance can use On-Star at her parents house in the hills of West Virginia even though no cell phone works unless you climb to the top of the ridge.
I was wondering about that in particular. That does make sense, since the cellular technology used in a car does not need to be miniturized. I'm sure it would have both a better power source (the car battery) and a better antenae.

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Nicki
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I think if you lock yourself out of the car they can open the doors for you too.
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missiebreathe
I Am Curious, Yellowtail


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Some friends of mine had OnStar in their new SUV. As they were driving somewhere a light went on on the dash with a problem. OnStar diagnosed it from the road, called a shop ahead of them and let them know my friends would be coming. All they had to do was drive in and the mechanic was ready to fix it.
They have used it when locked out too.
That being said, they didn't renew OnStar after the introductory year was up.
Kind of like insurance. Great in case of an emergency, but pricy when you aren't using it.

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BeachLife
The Bills of St. Mary's


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Researching it a bit more, I see that the unlocking of doors, theft detection, etc are all pretty much covered under the Safe & Sound package. This seems like a much better deal then I previous though. I was under the impression that it only included the air bag detection and emergency servies. For $17 a month I can see how this might be a good idea.

Beach...but I only own Toyotas anyway...Life!

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Confessions of a Dragon's scribe
Diary of my Heart Surgery

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Nick Theodorakis
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by BeachLife:
...I was wondering about that in particular. That does make sense, since the cellular technology used in a car does not need to be miniturized. I'm sure it would have both a better power source (the car battery) and a better antenae.

According to this site:
quote:

OnStar's cellular service has a better range than most cell phones (although you can still lose service in remote areas), with a full three watts instead of a regular cell phone's 0.6 watts.

Nick

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Nion
We Three Blings


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Ah, yes. I've often wondered, just why don't other car companies jump on this? OnStar has been around for years now, and I would guess that means it's been popular enough to keep it around. What's everyone waiting for?

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Donovan
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quote:
Originally posted by RelicMan:
Ah, yes. I've often wondered, just why don't other car companies jump on this? OnStar has been around for years now, and I would guess that means it's been popular enough to keep it around. What's everyone waiting for?

Probably patents and liciencing. I'm sure the idea of OnStar has a rather heavy patent on it.

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callee
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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But I want to return to one of Beach's first points: power. If you're in an accident that incapacitates you, there's good odds that your car battery has gotten knocked around too. Does Onstar have any kind of emergency alternate power?

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Starla
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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Not all 911 systems have the ability to display location- cell phone or land line. My local 911 service does not have ID capacity in any form. OnStar would be a very good thing to have in an emergency out here.

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Manzanita SOL
I Saw Three Shipments


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From the How Stuff Works page, the only thing they mentioned about OnStar's power source was this (paragraph 11):
quote:
OnStar's cellular service has a better range than most cell phones (although you can still lose service in remote areas), with a full three watts instead of a regular cell phone's 0.6 watts.
Not that it helps much, but it does explain how it could be more useful, I suppose.

I thought this was interesting, from under the heading "OnStar Controversy" (towards the end):
quote:
But not all reviews of OnStar are positive. Some users call the service "Big Brother" and say that the service can lead to an invasion of privacy.

In addition to airbag deployment and impact severity, the Vehicle Comm and Interface Module can also record whether you're wearing your seatbelt or how fast you're driving. It keeps data related to events immediately before, during and after a crash for about 45 days. The Call Center retains received information for over a year so that it can maintain quality and follow-up on customer complaints.

*a relatively uninteresting bit goes here*

...Although it did not mention OnStar by name, a United States Appeals Court ruled in 2003 that the government may be able to use the on-board cell phone to eavesdrop on drivers.

I don't see where there's a real problem with that, except for the last part, here. The device that records the accident data only starts recording from moment of impact (also found on that page).

Still, I wish I could find out whether there's an alternat power source or not. It's going to be one of those little things that sticks in the back of my mind, now.

~Manza

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moonlight
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I used to be a 911 operator and dealt with OnStar a few times. One time they called us saying that someone's panic button had been activated and all they could give me was a general location. This was an urban area and a several-block radius didn't help much. Then I asked for a plate, and they gave me something that didn't even fit the license plate format. I asked for a name and they didn't have that. After several in-house computer searches, I was finally able to figure out a plate that was similar, that was registered to the same make vehicle whose owner lived in the area. It ended up being parked at home and the panic button was hit by accident, but I couldn't help but notice that not only did they not have the owner's name or the correct license plate, but they could only give me a general location...and when you are talking a panic button in an urban area, that doesn't do much good. It took me a long time to find the correct information.

Other than that, I guess it would be good in case of an accident or if you locked yourself out.

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