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The Bolt EV only comes with six months of free OnStar (as opposed to the three years the Volt received), so renewing the service has never been an urgent consideration for me. Unless their data plans improve, I'm not interested in renewing my service when it expires, so I have a question about the Emergency Service call.

Most cell phones are required to allow you to contact emergency services even if you do not have an active cell phone plan. Is the same true of OnStar? Say I am in an area outside of my cell phone carrier's range and I need to make an emergency call. Will the OnStar emergency line still connect me after my membership has expired? I'm assuming it has to, but I just wanted to verify.
 

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Yes, just like a cell phone with no service it will connect you to an operator that can connect you to 911.

Just remember, OnStar uses a cellular modem, so if your cell phone is out of service range, the car probably won't be able to make an emergency call either.
 

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I always figured one day GM would reduce the length of INCLUDED OnStar service to keep the basic MSRP at some price point. Even the Stingray doesn't get that kind of service.

So I'm not surprised.
 

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It’s easy enough to check on the availability of certain services during an emergency, even if your plan doesn't cover them, by pushing the blue OnStar button while you’re in the vehicle and asking the agent. That’s what I did a couple of months ago when the question came up in one of these threads (my initial OnStar service expired on my 2012 Volt at the three year mark, and I eventually obtained the free Basic Plan several months later). Can’t quite remember exactly what was said, but I seem to remember feeling reassured that, say, if I should smack into a tree, I can push the button and someone will help me (again, can’t remember if that involves patching me through to 911 or actually sending out emergency services).

Don’t know how this works out if you don’t even have the Basic Plan (perhaps it, too, will be offered free to Bolt owners after the initial offer expires), but if you can reactivate your OnStar service after it has expired by pressing the blue button and talking to the rep, it would suggest that even with an inactive subscription, an OnStar agent will respond to a push of the blue button in an emergency.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
...if you can reactivate your OnStar service after it has expired by pressing the blue button and talking to the rep, it would suggest that even with an inactive subscription, an OnStar agent will respond to a push of the blue button in an emergency.
Good point. I guess the system does stay live. They want to get your dues if you decide to start using their services.
 

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I believe that the signal strength of the on-board cell phone through OnStar is stronger than that of a hand-held cell phone and will be able to make contact even though the hand-held can't connect. I don't know the quantitative difference - maybe someone and jump in here.
 

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I believe that the signal strength of the on-board cell phone through OnStar is stronger than that of a hand-held cell phone and will be able to make contact even though the hand-held can't connect. I don't know the quantitative difference - maybe someone and jump in here.
Every reference I can find says the OnStar module uses a 3-watt transmitter. Every reference I can find of similar credibility says a handheld cellphone runs at about 0.5 watts. So other things being equal, the OnStar should be able to make towers hear it from twice as far as a typical cell phone.

That does presuppose, however, that your barrier is just distance, not (for example) a big honkin' mountain in the way or something.
 

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Thanks, hellsop. Do you know if OnStar is using AT&T?
 

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Thanks, hellsop. Do you know if OnStar is using AT&T?
I suspect, based on that the earlier cars are CDMA-based, that they're partnered with Verizon. LTE puts all bets aside as technology is not a hallmark anymore there. More likely they've got multiple contracts and multiple carriers in different areas of coverage.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
OnStar's data plan definitely transmits over the AT&T network.

To bring it back to the original topic, I would think contracts shouldn't matter for emergency purposes.
 
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