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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We received a letter from Onstar yesterday telling us that folks in this area (southcentral Kentucky) will lose hands-free calling service after December 31 due to an FCC regulation change. They will cancel my number and refund any money I've paid for minutes. No Big Deal, right? I don't think I've ever used it anyway. But as I read on, this line in the letter stood out, " Please be aware that all other OnStar services that are available through the red emergency button and the blue Onstar button will continue to function normally and will not be affected." The inverse suggests that anything I use the PHONE button for will NOT continue to function.

I'm a big user of the Mapquest Web Destination entry for directions when we travel. This uses the phone button to contact the virtual advisor to load directions so I decided to call to see how that would be affected. I was told that I would NOT be able to access this after December 31. :'(

So I inquired about the Turn-by-Turn navigation and was told that I couldn't use it either. :-\ However, as I remember it, the advisor did tell me that it would only affect me in my home area and when I was traveling in areas where there is coverage, that I could still use these services.

I hung up, very disappointed but decided to sleep on it. After all, I don't really use these navigation services that much when I'm in the local area. This morning I got on the Onstar website to see what else it said and found a map that tells me that most of Kentucky does not have Turn-by-Turn Navigation service. But I've been using it within the "no-service area" since we got the car at the end of August 2008. So I decided to call them back to clarify what I was told the night before.

The gist of the call this morning is that anything we use the phone button for, anywhere we are, will not work because we are losing our Hands-Free account and without that, this button will be inactivated and we can't use it no matter what service area we're in. So if we are traveling through an area with turn-by-turn coverage, we still will not be able to use it because our home area doesn't have coverage. THIS MAKES NO SENSE TO ME! The advisor tried to console me by reminding me that we could always push the Onstar button for directions from a Live Advisor. This is very different from having the directions about the next turn being displayed on the DIC in a long trip through unfamiliar areas. She told me that when the live advisor gave us directions verbally, we could record these and replay them since our Turn-by-Turn wouldn't work anymore.

So I hung up and looked up this process on the ONSTAR website since I've never used it. The website says that I can record and replay these verbal directions by using the PHONE button...which I've been told isn't going to work anymore. So I'm pretty confused and very frustrated. The letter said that my Hands-Free will be cancelled but I'm afraid that the Hands-Free Calling is just the tip of the iceberg because it appears that HFC button is the foundation of numerous other navigational products...turn by turn, web destination entry, and possibly replaying directions provided by a Live Onstar Advisor.

Has anyone else received this letter? Has anyone gotten any information that confirms or conflicts? Are there any Onstar people lurking around out there that can provide any consolation? The turn-by-turn navigation is one of the best things about my new Acadia and I'm really blue about this news! :eek:hno:
 

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:eek: I have not heard this, but then, I'm not in KY. It would upset me to find out that a car I purchased, with a feature I intended on using regularly, would be unavailable to me after purchase, I can tell you that much. :angryfire:
 

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Michele,

Check your PM.
 

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My dealer accidently left out a brochure for salesman's eyes only used to sell XM and OnStar: The 2008 Dealer Pocket Guide (GM Item#ON-DPG-SEPT07). In addition to salesman commission's and procedure, sales and delivery tips, etc. There is a section on the FCC changes. On the last page of the section is a page entitled:

ATTENTION DEALERS IN THE FOLLOWING STATES: AL, CO, KS, KY, MO, OK, TX, UT, WY

OnStar relies on local cellular agreements through our national service provider to serve our subscribers. Today, OnStar cellular agreements cover 99% of the U.S. population. Coverage maps for OnStar service overall, as well as some of our individual services like Turn-by-Turn Navigation, can be found on http://onstar.com.

Due to the anticipated discontinuation of analog service by cellular carriers, OnStar service offered currently in some areas will not be available after 12/31/07. We anticipate that the following ZIP codes will be affected. This list is subject to change. Please refer to http://onstar.com for the most current information.
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Each City has a list of zip codes. If you see your city, send me a personal message with your zip code and I will see if it is on the list.


STATECITIES
ALFAYETTE, GREENE, RANDOLPH
CORIO BLANCO
KSATCHISON, DONIPHAN
KYBATH, FLEMING, GARRARD, LEWIS, LINCOLN, MENIFEE, MONTGOMERY, NICHOLAS, ROBERTSON, ROWAN
LAAVOYELLES, ST HELENA, VERNON, WEST FELICIANA
MOLINN
OKCUSTER
TXBROWN, CONCHO, DIMMIT, EDWARDS, KIMBLE, KINNEY, MASON, MCCULLOCH, MENARD, REAL, SABINE, SAN AUGUSTINE, SAN SABA, ZAVALA
UTRICH
WYFREMONT
 

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I had to convert my 02 Seville to digital to continue ON Star service past the end of this year. The analog is being dropped.

Most 01 & earlier can not be converted & will lose the OnStar Service too.
 

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Ours came with On Star off the lot and might be good for resale purposes. If going to unfamiliar suroundings, we use map quest and print it out. If change of plans on trip or get off beaten path, there are internet connections at hotels that will give me more detailed information besides directions to print out. We have hands free with our Cellular phone and if we lock the keys in the car, there is an xtra set attached underneath and up, in front end. For us, XM has expired, and will wait for On Star to expire too as our applications do not require. If stranded some where, dial 911. Road Atlas can be a handy tool too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the replies so far...

Before purchasing my turn-by-turn navigation equipped Acadia (which was a selling point for us BTW), I always did many of the things that Teeter-Totter suggested. In the past, I've printed out Mapquest maps of anticipated destinations and stops in unfamiliar cities and kept maps and atlas on hand. I've always been the designated navigator when we travel. Hubby drives and I navigate. However, these tools are VERY crude compared to the beautiful system that Onstar has developed. They can help you with general routing but certainly do not get you to specific points of interest as easily. As a family that is comfortable using available technologies to make their life simpler (and don't mind paying for it!), this is so upsetting. :banghead:

Here's an example, my husband and I took our son to Lexington, KY Sunday night for an overnight visit to a college he's interested in attending. Before we left, I used Mapquest to load directions to the university and our hotel to our Onstar turn-by-turn. We followed the Onstar TBT directions straight to the school in downtown Lexington without so much as one missed turn, including navigating an area full of one way streets. After driving around the campus before it got dark, we had about 30 minutes to spare so we loaded the TBT directions to our hotel and drove straight to it. We stopped, checked in and then headed back to campus so our son could meet his host for the evening. On our way out, my husband asked where we should go for dinner. Since we are not familiar with Lexington, I ducked into the hotel's business center, pulled up the Mapquest Onstar system and popped in the name of a restaurant chain we like and loaded the directions using the Onstar Mapquest web destination service. This took about 2 minutes. Then I jumped into the Acadia when hubby pulled around. He and my son were laughing when I got in the car. Hubby commented that it looked like I had decided where to have dinner. He explained that while they waited for me in the drive, he had pulled up the Virtual Advisor to load directions back to campus since it had gotten dark. When he pressed the phone button and requested the Virtual Advisor, the first thing it did was ask him if he wanted to go to the newly loaded destination of Carraba's! As soon as we dropped our son off, he and I proceeded from Transy to Carraba's using the advised route... and never missed a turn, even though it was dark and pouring rain. When we left, it took us back to the hotel using another route that was much more direct than if we had re-routed ourselves manually back to the school and then from there back to the hotel (which we could do on our own by then). One of the great things about Onstar web destinations that you have loaded is that Onstar takes a look at where you are now via GPS and calculates a new route each time you access the Virtual Advisor. In these days of high gasoline prices, I vote for traveling the most direct route and I truly appreciate the comfort of getting where you're going without agonizing over paper maps in the dark!

This is such a great system and I've told everyone that asks me about my new Acadia that this is my favorite thing about it. Needless to say, when a car company develops something like this that has such value to its customers and then doesn't do the work to keep the tool online and available to ALL of them, it's much worse than never offering it to begin with! I'm a former GM employe and very pro-GM as a rule so I'm really just sad that they will not step up and make this work for everyone. You can't do much about areas where digital conditions make it impossible to have coverage IN that area but to cut off people who live in a non-covered area who wish to use the service when they travel to areas WITH coverage is a real shame and is truly a lost opportunity for the company!

Today I will go and talk to my dealer about it. Judging from the list above, which does NOT include my county in Kentucky BTW, there are probably a lot of Acadia drivers out there throughout the country that will be affected by this. I hope everyone who received one of these letters will contact Onstar at their call center to let them know that they too are unhappy about this turn of events.
 

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Michele,
You sound like a great advocate for the system and the way you describe it, it sounds very useful and like something we would use all of the time. Sorry to hear you are having it pulled out from under you.

On a side note, has the Mapquest Onstar service gone full production now available for all Onstar subscribers? Last I had heard it was only available to a select few for testing.

p.s. I can't wait for my Acadia to arrive. Hopefully should be under a week away. :blob:
 

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Michele,
Good observation!! Added note: We don't go on enough non familiar excursions to justify annual On Star Cost . I'm into tech stuff, but look for return on investment. Wireless laptop w portable printer in or near hotels and if lucky with connection downtown, is more cost effective for us and have wide use of laptop internet information at the same time. Non restrictive use. Wireless laptop and portable printer is our tech way of getting the traveling job done. Comments welcome
 

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I use the mapquest uploads to OnStar for turn-by-turn directions. It is not available to everyone and is only in Beta testing right now. But when I found that out, I sent OnStar an e-mail and they immediately put me on the Beta testing list so I could use it. One note: You loose all Virtual Advisor features in order to do the Beta Testing as the Beta Testing is done via the Virtual Advisor command.

I absolutely LOVE the OnStar turn by turn. I really like the fact that I never have to take my eyes off the road to get directions set up for where I am going. Whenever we are ready to do a road trip or some running around, I use mapquest to upload the directions and off we go.

If I learned that I did not have the OnStar feature anymore, I would also be equally as upset. Although to be honest, this was not one of the things that made me buy the car as it wasn't until after we got it that I learned that it was even there. :)

Michele,

I think you should pursue GM for some type of discount or something. That is just not right!!!
 

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I would absolutely find this aggravating. While I don't use it all the time, I do use it often enough to miss it if it were suddenly taken away from me. Living outside Chicago, I doubt this will ever be a problem in this area. I road trip a lot and use the beta MapQuest feature for all my directions. So far, I have yet to enter an area where I've lost the ability to use the hands-free features of my Onstar.

What a pain. It would seem like there should be something they can do to fix this situation with today's technology!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I spoke with my dealer about this today and he hadn't heard anything about it. But since he sells a lot of vehicles with Onstar hands-free and turn-by-turn, he was very interested and promised to check into it. That is good and I'm sure he will advocate for us and his other customers, current and future.

I'm going to try calling Onstar tomorrow from my car and talk to them about this. So far I've only talked to the people at the 800 number on the letter, not the general Onstar number. I'm going to ask the advisor who answers to set me up with a non-local hands free phone number from an area that will retain coverage after January 1. I think we'll be able to continue using TFT and hands free if they'll do that. I believe in dealing with others in good faith and expect that others will deal with me accordingly so I've got my fingers crossed. This is a reasonable work-around until they resolve the technical/contract issues in my local area. After all, Onstar should want to make me happy...I'm a living, breathing, walking advertisement for them! :clap2:

I just want to keep using my Mapquest Web Destination Entry to load my TBT navigation. I'm with GAR, it's the greatest! For those of you that haven't been invited to participate in the pilot program but like the sound of it, I'd suggest that you try to wrangle a way to get into the program. Here's some information about it if you haven't heard of it and would like to know more. http://www.mapquest.com/features/main.adp?page=onstar_learnmore There is also a link to FAQ's about it on that page. I don't know how I got picked but I did visit this website and read all about it shortly before I was invited to participate in the pilot. I heard about it first on this forum.

BTW, I have been lurking on this forum for a long time, well before I ordered my loaded liquid silver 2008 Acadia. This forum is a helpful and informative community and I appreciate all the information I've gleaned from all the postings. Thanks for everything, fellow forum members! You're a treasure trove.

Ordered it 8/9/07...delivered 8/31/07. Oh happy day! LOVE IT! ;D
 

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Old Timer said:
I had to convert my 02 Seville to digital to continue ON Star service past the end of this year. The analog is being dropped.

Most 01 & earlier can not be converted & will lose the OnStar Service too.
So are you saying that there is a way around this problem by upgrading your OnStar equipment in your vehicle?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
No...my Acadia and all Acadias are all digital and "Turn-By-Turn" equipped. I've read that early Onstar vehicles (up to 2005?) had analog systems that had a related but different problem. They had to be upgraded to work with digital cell systems for the same reason...FCC has required all cellular systems to be upgraded to digital so they had to have their Onstar upgraded to work with digital.

The problem we've got in my area (southcentral Kentucky) is that the local cellular services that have been used for the hands free (and thus the turn-by-turn) data transmissions apparently are going to be cancelled because they are on analog. The FCC is allowing cell companies to discontinue the analog band now that they have required them to all convert to digital. For some reason, Onstar is unable to use the upgraded digital cellular systems in my area. I'm not clear on why...either a technical or carrier negotiation problem. In any case, after December 31 they will cancel the hands free number in my Acadia because they can't assign one to my car ???

However, if Onstar will assign me a hands free cell number from a location where they are available after January 1 then I'll still have an active cell account in my car and so I should be able to access the phone button to get turn-by-turn as long as I'm in an area where it is available. (Some areas just don't have that service.) At least, this is what I think based on the conversations I've had with them so far. I could certainly go to a kiosk in a mall in any city in the USA and set up a cell phone with a cell number based in that city, regardless of where I actually reside so I don't know why this should be any different. We'll see what the lucky Onstar advisor that draws my call tomorrow says! Wish me (and them) luck! ;D
 

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On Star[GM] has to pay the phone companies for the use of their cellular towers so you can receive and send from your car. Perhaps GM contracts are up with some of these phone companies who have upped the anti and GM is not willing to pay higher price to renew contract and pass the increase onto customers when these contracts are due? This is the problem. You can use your hands free option accessories with your hand held cellular phone. On Star has several dead phone coverage areas in AL which we experienced this past June. Again is attributed to On Star not paying for the use of cellular phone companies towers. Perhaps too, there are not enough GM cars with ON Star that warrants them to pay for coverage in certain areas of the US? Lose money if not enough GM ON Star phone users in the area. Is ALL about money!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Good point Teeter Totter.

The first time I called I asked if it was a contractual problem with local cell carriers. (Believe me, I've worn them out every time I call them! :'( :angryfire: :eek:hno: :help:) The answer was vague but the advisor finally said that she thought it was a technical problem with the type of digital service prevalent in this area. I don't know anything at all about the "types" of digital service so I'm not in a position to question whether this is plausible. I agree with you that it could as easily be related to contracts. But I've got enough experience to know that even if this were the case, they would not tell me so!

I called the "help" number on my letter back last night :help: (again!) and after being put on hold for quite a while, they asked me to call back at the end of the year to see if there is another number available. This is similar to what I had planned to ask for when I called today so I'm hopeful that we'll still be able to sort this out. Or they told me this to get me to quit calling them every other day :blob:!

Whichever it is, I think I'll just sit on this for a couple of weeks. They might be sorting out solutions now that they've had a chance to gauge the response of affected customers. I 've probably been vocal enough about it for now and I may have made some headway so I don't want to screw that up! Thanks for all your supportive comments. If you received a letter and are concerned, I'd urge you to call the number and talk it over with Onstar.
 

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oo ya, happen to remember. One instance with On Star hands free in Biloxi when could not call out, On Star representative was able to switch me to their phone service side only for that representative to tell me the signal was bouncing off the Gulf Waters. Long story short, they have most answers to most problems. lol They gave me 10 xtra minutes for my troubles which I requested. Hands free US Cellular phone was trusty back-up system. On Star speaker system sure works nice, though. Sorry that those mentioned areas will no longer have hands free coverage.
Why pay for cell tower usage when not enough Hands Free users in the area to pay for it? Or GM is not renewing some cell phone tower contracts due to cost increase by providers they work with?

Our cell phones will operate on analog as well as digital tower communications. Most cell phones being produced today only accept digital format. Hopefully my new replacement phone I select in January, will still have both capabilities in a small package.
 
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