T-Mobile SyncUp Drive can create a Wi-Fi hotspot in your car and analyze vehicle diagnostics

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T-Mobile today confirmed a new device that’ll launch soon, but this product isn’t a smartphone, tablet, or wearable.

The T-Mobile SyncUp Drive is a device that will give your car its own Wi-Fi network. The SyncUp Drive plugs into a vehicle’s OBD-II (on-board diagnostics) port, a feature included with most cars made after 1996. Once hooked up, the device sucks in T-Mobile 4G LTE and spits it out as a Wi-Fi signal, letting you get Wi-Fi-only devices inside the car online.

In addition to functioning as a Wi-Fi hotspot, the SyncUp Drive can give you diagnostic information on your vehicle. The OBD-II port is often used by mechanics to diagnose problems with your vehicle, but with the SyncUp drive, you can also analyze your driving habits, keep track of the location of your vehicle (like if your kid is driving it), set speeding alerts, and more.

Because it’s plugged into your car’s ODB-II port, the SyncUp Drive doesn’t require charging. You can manage the device from your smartphone and also get notifications for things like when your car has entered or left a designated area, any issues that your car might be having, or when the SyncUp Drive is removed.

T-Mobile’s new SyncUp Drive could come in handy for folks that regularly need to connect Wi-Fi devices in their car, like parents with kids and tablets. Because it’s always plugged in, you don’t need fiddle with turning on a mobile hotspot like you would with a regular smartphone. Plus, it’ll help parents keep track of young drivers and make sure that they’re being responsible behind the wheel.

The SyncUp Drive will launch at T-Mobile on November 18 at a price of $149.99. For a limited time, the ZTE-built device will be free (via bill credits) with a 24-month finance agreement and 2GB or higher mobile internet plan.

Source: T-Mobile (1), (2)

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  • User

    Neat idea!!!!!

  • dontsh00tmesanta

    Another way to track you

    • Rob

      Indeed. Very unnerving.

      • dontsh00tmesanta

        Yea

    • Acdc1a

      Just like your smartphone, your tablet, your laptop…

      • Rob

        Not really the same thing. If you have one of these things, they know where your car is even if you have turned off your other devices. 99% of the people who plug this in will forget about it. Since battery life is not a concern, this device could theoretically be used to map your actual location at any given time without your knowledge using actual GPS signals and not just cellular triangulation.

        • Acdc1a

          Leave location services on Android or iOS devices and go back and see what they’ve discovered about you…

        • Rob

          Right but that can easily be turned off. There’s no indication that the same could be said for this device and since battery life isn’t a concern, there wouldn’t be a way to know.

        • Acdc1a

          If you believe that shutting the service off actually shuts it off so no one can monitor it, I’ve got some land to sell you. Anyone that actually values personal privacy shouldn’t be using a wireless device at all.

        • SirStephenH

          You could, I don’t know, unplug it.

        • (J²)

          This device does have GPS functionality. On the official announcement, it was touted as one of the features. It’s the entire point of such a device, if you don’t like it – don’t buy it.

          If you think about it, it’s more of a safety feature in case your car is stole or in the event you let someone use it (kids, friend) you know where they are.

        • SirStephenH

          I don’t know what you’re talking about. They can track you through the GPS in your phone, including while you’re driving. This device doesn’t really effect your privacy at all unless you regularly turn off your phone while driving.

          Cell and WiFi triangulation is used to assist your device in getting a faster GPS fix.

      • dontsh00tmesanta

        Which is why i said ANOTHER lmao

    • I have it all, you should go off the grid.

      • dontsh00tmesanta

        With your mom and sisters

        • Another friendless internet sperg

        • dontsh00tmesanta

          Since i took your mom and sisters indeed you are

  • Mark

    My car (Chrysler 300S) actually has WiFi built in; I think (but am not 100% sure) it goes through the satellite link. I don’t have need for it most of the time but if had a few people on a road trip I’d definitely pay to turn it on for that time.

    • Acdc1a

      If it’s anything like GM, it uses AT&T Wireless and the price is absurd.

      • Trevnerdio

        Can confirm. My ’13 Camaro was the last year OnStar was partnered with Verizon, and they said “here’s 450 minutes” or whatever and I’m like okay, cool…they said it was an $80-100 value, I’m like are you kidding? For less than 500 minutes? What is this, 1992?

      • Mark

        I think it was $14.99 for two weeks or something like that. For something I’d only use once every few years it definitely sounded reasonable.

  • F4LL0U7

    What does the data plan for it cost per month?

    • jonathan3579

      I’d like to know the same..

    • Rob

      Probably the same as any other hotspot device. 20 bucks a month for unlimited data (with 1.5Mbps video cap) when attached to a T-Mobile ONE line, 10+ a month depending on data bucket for any other plan.

    • Francisco Peña
  • SeanBear

    whats the point of this thing and why would anyone get it??? doa

    • MadJoe

      The point, as the article points out had you bothered to read it, is to add WiFi to your car for WiFi only devices AND monitor diagnostic information via the OBD2 port. Do you need anything else spoon-fed to you?

      • Grandy Cuban

        MadJoe, Relax. How about a little respect? Do you need a little kindness spoon-to you? If you don’t want to go full decaf, how about the 50/50 blend to start with? Maybe you have sleep apnea and aren’t getting the restful sleep you need?

        • MadJoe

          You misunderstand. I’m calm, I was offering a kind service to a less fortunate.

  • Moe

    Nice idea and maybe useful to some. Still will rely on the TMO signal to generate the wifi which we know is pretty inconsistent outside of major cities. Another devise that will allow Big Brother to track your movements.

    • Acdc1a

      You should travel the thumb in Michigan. Hardly “urban” and T-Mobile is quite useful.

    • DKBNYC

      If you have a cellphone, you are being tracked. Hell, if the government really wanted to track you, they have this new invention called “Satellites” that can read the fine print on a pack of cigarettes from space.

  • why do I need something like this if my phone already has a hotspot capability that I can share with folks in the car? the odb-ii connection is nice, but does it just work with a T-Mo service, or something more generic like http://Dash.by?

    • TheCudder

      Using your phone as a HotSpot causes it to overheat and it drains your battery —- this device I assume is powered from your car & never has to be touched, enabled or disabled…it’s just there.

      • my phone is already in a dash mount and connected to power – I use it for music and maps, as well as recording data from my Dash ODB-II dongle – this dongle costs $150 plus a data sim monthly cost and adds little.
        In fact, just checked and using the macroDroid application I can automatically enable/disable hotspot as part of the sequence my phone goes through when it connects to the car already

        • TheCudder

          That’s you. not everyone has an advanced setup in their car.

        • not that advanced:
          – Android cellphone (my regular phone)
          – ioAuto mount http://iomounts.proclipusa.com/
          – belkin aircast bluetooth to 3.5mm http://amzn.to/2ftscsD
          – ODB-ii adapter (Scantool ODBLink, though there are cheaper options) – http://amzn.to/2expRKV and the http://dash.by software
          – MacroDroid app – http://macrodroid.com/ – on my phone to add some clever automation, but not really needed…

        • TheCudder

          So average everyday Jane’s & Joe’s would know what everything you listed is? Nope, making the term “advanced” appropriate.

        • SirStephenH

          Tethering still slows charging, the battery can still drain while plugged into some chargers, and causes overheating plus it makes it more difficult to use your phone. This option would be better but the cost of this isn’t worth it for most people.

  • CompSciPhd

    Unless they stay on top of this, this is going to be lead to cars being hacked on the road.

    • hopefully this ODB-II device is capable of read-only operations.

    • Dean

      99.99% of vehicles on the road can’t be controlled through OBD2 without a very special controller. It’s more likely they will hack the hotspot to use data.

    • rene

      Or clone the security in order to download the inscription to a new key so the can stole the car

    • steveb944

      I’m sure it’s read only and if anything only code wipe like all other scanners.

  • Pablo Quiles

    Nice idea, but you can get a Bluetooth,WiFi OBD for around $25-$30 on Amazon and link to your smartphone and get the diagnostics and use the 14G of tethering on your Tmobile plan for the WiFi only devices in your car. Do the same and for just a few dollars instead of this item.

    • stuman19741974 .

      I bought a Carista from Amazon this past summer. It works with iPhones and Android devices via BT LE. I also use OBD Fusion to see my car stats.

      With unlimited data on the phone, I don’t see the need for this device. If this was 6 years ago when my kids didn’t have their own phone lines, it may have had value. But even with that, I can set my iPhone to allow anyone to tether anyway.

  • PiCASSiMO

    Great. I’m sure that once I’ve plugged this in my car, at my auto insurance renewal I will get a hefty increase on my premiums. T-Mobile in their fine print will be selling my driving habits to companies that could benefit from knowing how fast you accelerate, slow down, and what speeds you normally travel at.

    No thank you.

    • frankinnoho

      OR, you could get a discount for being a good driver, or offers for really low price insurance from companies looking for good drivers! Well, maybe not you, because apparently you drive like a dick.

      • rene

        Why you need to be offensive, is not that his right to drive wherever he please ? Or anybody for that matter? In the end he is the one who is paying for either way.
        Either way too is anybody’s choice, good or bad is a convenient and in the same time a double edge sword, a services like this.

        • frankinnoho

          You’re kidding, right? He has a “Right” to drive how he pleases? No… actually, there are rules of the road: some are merely accepted conventions, but many are actual laws. Driving, as has been noted many times, is not a “right”, but a “privilege” granted by “license”, so get off your SJW Sheriff of the Internet high horse.

        • Adam

          Is it constitutional law day on T-Mobile? Of course driving is a right. Driving is a right because it cannot be taken away without due process. For example, you get a DMV hearing when busted for DUI. Although the constitution was written before cars were invented, there is U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section 2, Clause 1 (right to travel).

        • SirStephenH

          Privileges can be taken away, rights cannot. Driving is a privilege as it’s been determined in numerous court rulings.

        • Adam

          Rights cannot be taken away? I will tell that to the next convicted felon applying for a concealed carry weapons permit. What you mean is rights cannot be taken away without due process, like driving.

        • Scott Mathison

          Driving is a privilege as is stated hundreds of times on just about every DMV manual in the US. You are confusing due process, with policies established by the state.

          You don’t need to have a trial to lose your driving privileges. DUI is a crime which can result in your freedom (the actual right being affected here) being taken away. They just take away your driving privileges because of their state laws.

        • Adam

          When someone’s words and actions disagree, I believe their actions. The state says driving is a privilege with words, but their actions say right. When two people (cop & driver) get to present their case before an impartial 3rd party (DMV), who judges the evidence based on laws, I call that due process.

    • lomsha

      Bingo!

    • companies like Metromile already offer that option I some states

    • Fabian

      It will sinc your personal info with the servers of other companies.

    • steveb944

      Progressive already openly does this. And this won’t necessarily tie directly to your vehicle registration/insurance as long as you have varying information between the two. Heck your phone can already do the work for them if you’re that paranoid.

    • SirStephenH

      I can pretty much guarantee you that any information T-Mobile may or may not sell won’t contain personal information.

    • scarbarough

      From the fine print:
      T-Mobile will share the information collected via the App, including vehicle type, location, and usage information with Mojio in order to provide the Services. In addition, your data may be shared with Mojio to enable third party services that use your personal data. No third party will be granted access to data that identifies you without first obtaining your consent. To the extent a third party uses derivative data that does not identify you personally, any third party must contractually commit it may not attempt to re-identify any such data. Any and all such third parties will be assessed and approved by T-Mobile to ensure they meet our standards for data security, transparency, choice and fair use of information.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      So no, there won’t be anything personally identifiable going to any company other than the one critical for providing the services…

  • Jason Caprio

    I’m an ex T-Mobile customer although by habit I still visit this site lol. This device seems like a pretty awesome idea to provide Wifi access to passengers. During my recent road trip throughout Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, if I had this device on T-Mobile, I think my passengers using the Wifi would angrily turn off their device because they are so sick of their connections timing out.

    #HappilyVerizoned

    • theforevermachine

      Sorry you didn’t have a great experience where you live, but at least you found someone whose coverage does what you need it to do!

    • YawningAtJason

      Jason, during your recent road trip throughout Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, if you had stopped into one of my restaurants, I would have refused service to you for being so boring. -yawn- Oh wait, I guess I need to hashtag:

      #HappilyNotJason

      • Jason Caprio

        hahah. I might have visited your resturant already? What is it called?

  • Find my Car…

    I think it is a great idea, especially if something happens or if you have a mechanical break-down and in case of an emergency. It is another option to consider…like find my phone, Now we have find my car, LOL, LOL

  • steveb944

    Sign me up. I’ve always wanted a way to track my car but was worried a GPS would drain the battery and data would cost too much.

    What’s the price for the 2GB? I would have wanted a free 500mb plan considering I only want it for tracking.

  • SirStephenH

    You can’t do much with 2GB now and days. This is going to get expensive for some people.

    • (J²)

      Data Stash, Music Freedom and Binge On (6 GB and up) still exist. Music and Video content are most likely to be consumed while traveling. Unless you live in your vehicle, I believe you will be fine.

      • krishna aswani

        But, binge on and music freedom don’t work in hotspot mode. Do they?

        • (J²)

          They do but only on select plans. 6GB or higher.

  • Aaron Davis

    Just to let people know, the power to the OBD-II port doesn’t turn off when the car turns off, so if you leave this little box plugged in and don’t use the car for a few days, it will eventually drain the car battery.

    • Prode

      This is not 100% correct. Yes the port does always stay on, but the device needs to stay on as well. I have a device that is plugged into my car’s OBD-II port 24/7 and only runs when the car is on. I can leave my car for days and the battery is still good because the device turns off when the car is off. So I do understand what you are saying but until this device is out, there is no way to know if it is on 24/7. As long as this turns off when the car turns off, you will be fine. Over all I would still not buy it because you can just use the hotspot on your phone. Anyone that buys a hotspot for something like this is crazy since it comes build into your phone already.

      • (J²)

        T-Mobile has already addressed this. The device will go into stand by mode when the car is turned off to consume less power. It is recommended if your vehicle is not going to be used for extended periods of time to remove the device.

        If this device is going to offer a GPS capability, tamper detection, etc. It will need to be active when the car is not.

        With T-Mobile One, your phones hot spots only provides 3G speeds. This is very slow – especially considering globally content consumption has increased drastically. 3G speeds will only suffice for very lite use for short periods of time (almost an emergency). Not to mention, using hot spot drains battery faster. This device eliminates that problem .

        So if you are going on a road trip or travel often, this is ideal.

        • Prode

          ” It is recommended if your vehicle is not going to be used for extended periods of time to remove the device.”
          This will not happen with the avg customer. Some will remove it but most will not and will not know why their car will not start.
          You can always plug your phone into your car that solves the battery problem right there. Car hotspot is just plain crazy. All you are doing is taking data from a different bucket of data on your account. It is still cheaper to just raise your data plan for your phone in any case.

        • (J²)

          I do agree, most customers will forget and it is okay to forget for a few days (from what I’ve read), it’s only going to be an issue for do not drive their cars for weeks at a time.

          Relying on 1 persons phone is not always realistic…

          A) What if the person with data to share isn’t near a charger? (perhaps, back seat)
          B) What if the person with data to share isn’t actually in the car at all?
          C) What if the person is unable to use their phone (talk and text) and share data at the same time? Perhaps they have Verizon or Sprint or they have T-Mobile but they are driving through a 4G (No LTE) area (which typically doesn’t allow for simultaneous use of talk/text and data)

          You’ve got to understand, this is ideal for those who are traveling (not alone) and/or those who would benefit from the diagnostic/GPS features.

          “Car hotspot is just plain crazy. All you are doing is taking data from a
          different bucket of data on your account. It is still cheaper to just
          raise your data plan for your phone in any case.”

          With T-Mobile, in order to sign up for T-Mobile One PLUS, it’s $25 more per line. By default, hot spot/tethering speeds are still 3G. You have to add 24 hour 4G/LTE passes in order to receive high speed Wi-Fi on the road. This is not feasible. In reality, customers would be paying $25 for PLUS and forget to activate their 24 Hour 4G/LTE passes.

          Mobile Internet data starts at 2GB for $20 but keep in mind, T-Mobile provides customers with an active voice line with a $10 credit. So really, this device and service is only $10.

          On T-Mobile’s older plans, I see your point and you are 100% correct but T-Mobile One is another animal.

        • Prode

          The passes are only for HD Video, the hotspot is set at 4g lte right away nothing other then adding One Plus.

        • (J²)

          Thanks, you’re right.

          But I hope you understand my point.

          I think it’s a good deal considering $10/Month gets me a FREE device and 2GB of data. Otherwise, I’d have to agree with you.

          Plus, my cars “Info-tainment” system relies on either A) Wi-Fi or B) My smartphone (tether or hot spot). If I’m not driving, I’d like to be able to use my phone freely without ruining the Pandora experience for whoever may be driving.

        • Prode

          I would just get a hotspot then and leave it in the car. It will do the same thing for you without the extra junk that most ppl do not even need. The person that would buy this has no idea what the P codes are you get from a Check Engine Light. Also a lot of the newer cars have codes that a normal ODB-II reader can not even get. You need software that will read codes for that car. I do understand what you are saying but this is just a money grab and the poor ppl that have no idea what they are doing when they buy this. Also if you have a car full of people on there phones using this for wifi, the data you get will be gone in no time. Even if you have T-Mo One the 3g speeds will be very bad when more then maybe 2 ppl are on it. Over all this is just a waste of time and just trying to make a extra buck.

        • (J²)

          You are so right, for most people this is probably T-Mobile’s perfect cash grab opportunity. But, like me, some of us have been eying this technology for a few years – since it was first introduced on Verizon Wireless’ network.

          Me personally, I’ve had my car stolen before so the GPS capability does offer peace of mind.

          I also enjoy being able to use my Infotainment system in my car completely separate of my phone especially with passengers as my phone calls and messages are private.

          I’ve considered getting a hotspot for my car but after thinking about it, opted not to because it may encourage a break in. With this device, it is powered by the OBD-II reader which is tucked away PLUS, the average crook knows nothing about this port.

  • Abu Badguy

    Built by ZTE? No thank you.

    If you buy Huawei or ZTE you are giving the Chinese Govt a direct connection to your digital life. They know who you work for and if you work for a company with IP, they will hack you.

    • Kevin

      If you have an extra tinfoil hat please spare me one.

      • JJCommonSense

        Actually.. there was just a story in the news last week about certain phones coming from China as well as some Blu Studio phones that were sending proples text messages and other data directly to the Chinese gov’t.. What may seem like a conspiracy theory might actually have more bite than any of us would be comfortable admitting.

  • Sukru Tikves

    The good parts:

    T-Mobile will share the information collected via the App, including vehicle type, location, and usage information with Mojio in order to provide the Services. In addition, your data may be shared with Mojio to enable third party services that use your personal data. No third party will be granted access to data that identifies you without first obtaining your consent. To the extent a third party uses derivative data that does not identify you personally, any third party must contractually commit it may not attempt to re-identify any such data. Any and all such third parties will be assessed and approved by T-Mobile to ensure they meet our standards for data security, transparency, choice and fair use of information.

  • Critic4U

    I can see people hitting their leg on it being that the port is located usually to the left, middle or right of your cluster panel at the bottom under the dash and I would hope it comes with an extension cable so you can mount it somewhere else out of the way from your legs being able to hit it.

    BTW if you have OnStar this can get your account with them terminated and your monthly diagnostic report from them with say it couldn’t read the vehicle because a device was plugged in when it tried to get the once a month report from your vehicle; furthermore, if you get this error report you will not get another report on how your system is doing till the next month.

    • Todd Copeland

      I have a items plugged into my OBD port and don’t hit it with anything. I thought I would as well but it just does not happen.

  • Nobody Special

    I’M sure it cuts off when the car turns off, if not: while the car is sitting in the garage I could possibly use it to replace my home internet :)

    and this article says a 2GB plan and higher will be needed for this device, but it does not mention the other cost the customer would be charged for the tracking services and other car diagnostic data. Nothing is free, the tracking service will probably cost $10 and the diagnostic will cost $5 dollars but only if you switch to a Qualifying T-Mobile One Plan!!!! (((((GOtCHa))))))) I would like to read the fineprint of this T-Mobile One New World Order Plan :(

    Now when they use this device to collect data from its users, T-Mobile will know when you go to Wendy’s to pick up that free T-Mobile Tuesday Frosty. They will know your driving habits sure, but the hidden stuff they can collect on you is what stores or states you frequent. So If your device shows that you visit Buffalo Wild Wings frequently, you can expect to get a coupon in the mail to keep you satisfied and provide you an incentive to keep coming back !

    And will this device automatically make customers play pokemon go ?????
    And someone please tell me why this device look just like an ankle bracelet for criminals????

  • MIke

    Think privacy and how your driving data is going to be used. Some insurance companies are already offering discounts if you voluntarily use a similar devise – could also mean a rate increase if you’re a misbehaving driver. I can see a day where cops have the right to pull your plugged in devise to see if you were speeding. They can now do a similar check of your phone to see if you were texting while driving immediately prior to an accident or violation. Just how secure is this thing? WIll TMO sell you driving data or use location data in ways you are now aware of? Where does it end?

    • slybacon

      I’m not worried. I have nothing to hide.

      • Omegajb

        That’s right. Nothing to hid, nothing to fear. We can always be sure that nobody will abuse the system. Can I have your password? Trust me :-)

    • (J²)

      I understand the consumers privacy concerns but this is not realistic.

      Firstly, most cars from the last decade (perhaps even before) have “Black Boxes”. (or Data Recorders). This is some times used to determine the cause of catastrophic auto accidents where neither driver survived or recalls and the evidence doesn’t explain what happened.

      If insurance companies were that interested in your data, they’d be pulling data from your vehicles after auto accidents or other violations.

      • Todd Copeland

        Vehicle manufactures almost never give up that information short of a court order. Even then, they will usually fight against it. They don’t want a precedent sent to where they are required to give out the information as it can be used against them.

        • (J²)

          It’s a data recorder. Whomever can take it out of the car and try to gain access to it. Fortunately for consumers, this requires more time, resources and money which is not viable in most scenarios.
          It’s not the manufactures choice. They sold you the car, what happens to it beyond that point is out of their control.

          There are regulations in place that require automakers include an EDR beyond 2014. The data can be reviewed by NHTSA, by insurance companies and by the courts.

          But of course, it has to be a viable option for either of the above parties to seek the EDR.

        • Todd Copeland

          The data is encrypted. You an own the hardware but the software is only licensed. I’ve worked as a Property & Casualty adjuster for about 22 years now. I can tell you that insurance companies don’t have access to the vehicle’s data and that the manufactures will block attempts to obtain that information. As I mentioned, regardless of who wants it, a court order is almost always required to obtain it. Even the NHTSA does not have automatic access.

        • (J²)

          As a Technical Analyst, I can assure you that encrypted data can be de-crypted without consent or involvement of the manufacturer.

          You are right, it is not every day that such information will be pursed just because of the amount of time, money and work involved. I’ve already indicated this but that does not change the fact that this information is reviewed by insurance companies from time to time. If it were cost effective, it would be done more often.

          It is more likely that a court would request a manufacturer aid in providing information from their device by a court order – Completely agree here but it’s not the only route.

          I understand you may have been an adjuster but this will vary from company to company/country to country.

          There’s simply nothing stopping someone from accessing a EDR’s of a car that has been deemed totaled sitting in a junk yard. My point is the court is NOT the only channel to get this information. If you do some research, you’ll see that this has happened before.

  • weed 4 feed

    This is not a bad idea. So is the plan to sell another sim chip here for continuous T-mo access allowing data usage via wifi on the road or just in a turned on auto anywhere you have LTE reception? I can see the benefit of leaving my laptop now on the dashboard uploading pictures and files while I run into Starbucks if I leave the vehicle running. Then also while parked at a toll both I can check the internet on my laptop to see to see if Governor Christie is the one limiting traffic on the bridge. What a great device for Uber drivers to have for their riders with iPad devices not wanting to run through cell phone data tethering. Best of all I could mount the 60″ smart TV on the back of my truck and control via wifi what someone will see. Hey T-Mo, I’ll park that truck in fron of your HQ the next time CS hangs up on me!

  • DavidGuberman

    Currently, the SyncUp Drive and up-to-two-free-additional-lines offers can be combined. The up front cost is $20, for the SIM card for the SyncUp Drive. The monthly cost is taxes and regulatory fees on the “free” line used for the drive.

    • But I thought the sync up is only free with a valid data line…doesn’t that cost something or you just putting in one of the other free lines sim into the sync up?

      • DavidGuberman

        Yes, I’m using one of the two free lines.