V2X in Europe or not?

Interview with 5GAA CTO Maxime Flament

Maxime Flament

The development of connected mobility using 5G is progressing rapidly. How will the automotive sector change? And by when will the connected mobility future be a reality? Eurescom message editor-in-chief Milon Gupta asked someone who should know about the impact of 5G on the automotive sector – Dr. Maxime Flament. He is CTO of the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA), a global cross-industry organization of companies from the automotive, technology and telecommunications industries. The 5GAA members collaborate to develop end-to-end solutions for future mobility and transportation services.

What is the 5GAA’s vision for the automotive mobility of the future?

M. Flament: We see vehicles sharing information to make transportation safer, greener, and more enjoyable already at our doorstep. The technologies associated with this concept are collectively known as Cooperative Intelligent Transportation Systems, or C-ITS. The impact on road safety alone is sufficiently important to make C-ITS a priority.

5GAA is working actively with its members to enable “Connected mobility for people, vehicles and transport infrastructure”.

5GAA bridges the automotive and telecommunications industries, in order to address society’s connected mobility and road safety needs. We do this with applications such as automated driving, ubiquitous access to services and integration into intelligent transportation and traffic management. 5GAA’s contribution focusses on evolving, testing and promoting cellular-based communications, supporting standardisation, and accelerating global deployment and commercial availability.

What is the importance of 5G for realising the 5GAA’s vision?

M. Flament: 3GPP, as a global initiative to make global standards in the mobile network industry, has been building 5G step by step and will include 4G for many years in its non-standalone version. What’s important is that we can do plenty with current connectivity while much more is coming. There are 30 million vehicles out there that are already connected to mobile networks. On this basis, the 5GAA wants to start its deployment base. However, at this stage current mobile networks cannot provide the low latency required for safety of life. This is why 3GPP has specified the short range LTE-V2X PC5 interface to deliver basic safety services. Eventually it will be complemented by the new NR-V2X radio interface for advanced driving. 5GAA promotes the combination of the long-range mobile network connection, V2N, with the short range to connect to other vehicles, road-side and other smart devices.

The pure 5G part of C-V2X, called NR-V2X, is about advanced features. Among others, it will bring the possibility to address in unicast and groupcast modes and to guarantee a required level of quality. It basically enables sensor sharing or coordinated manoeuvring for automated driving.

How will 5G change the ecosystem of vehicles and road infrastructures?

M. Flament: 5G network communication will redefine mobile experience by offering multi-gigabit speeds for immersive user experiences, as well as new infotainment, telematics, and teleoperation use cases.

What 5G brings to the connected vehicle ecosystem is the huge experience of the telecommunication industry, mobile network operators, their suppliers and phone manufacturers. They have decades of know-how to optimally deploy, operate and maintain large communication networks. 5G is based on the global 3GPP standard and will evolve with a long-term perspective while maintaining backward interoperability release after release.

With 5G New Radio, a full set of new spectrum bands have been allocated. This gives operators the possibility to tailor-fit their services to the demand of the automotive industry: reliable, predictable, low-latency QoS for advanced driving features. This comes on top of the operation in the 5.9 GHz band for ITS short-range services.

Which technical, regulatory and legal challenges need to be overcome on the way to connecting all vehicles?

M. Flament: As a global standard, C-V2X [cellular vehicle-to-everything, a 3GPP standard – the editor] is being prepared for deployment worldwide and will first come to the countries where spectrum regulations and policies have been proactively supporting 5G.

In China, the government is completely supportive of the incorporation of 5G technologies. The MIIT forecasts that up to 30{b28ae05319d94bff0b4d65c5a9f4524dd588360f05c61ef440e1608e0a1c4144} of all new cars will be equipped with LTE-V2X as of mid-2021. Also, LTE-V2X road-side coverage is planned on expressways and major urban roads infrastructure. Once ready, 5G-V2X will complement the services with advanced features.

In North America, the US FCC is considering the revision of the exclusive use of DSRC radios in the 5.9 GHz band which has remained largely underutilised. A 5GAA Waiver to the US FCC was submitted to allow C-V2X operation in the upper 20 MHz of this band. US policymakers recognise the value of technology-neutral policies and welcome a consensual industry solution to maximise use of the 5.9GHz band for improving road safety and efficiency.

In Europe, the European Council has objected to the adoption of a delegated regulation on C-ITS. 5GAA had advocated for a technologically neutral approach. The objection sends a strong signal to the European Commission to revise its plans. Only a level playing field between existing technologies will allow safer, more efficient mobility on European roads.

What will be the economic impact of 5G on the automotive sector? How will 5G change business models and market structures in the global automotive sector?

M. Flament: C-V2X has a clear evolution path to 5G. It is a scalable, cost-efficient solution.

For vehicles, C-V2X can be integrated with widely available cellular platforms/modems to drive cost efficiency; many new vehicles are expected to feature cellular connectivity in the next few years. C-V2X can deliver both short-range safety V2X applications and long-range network communications via one single modem, which accelerates time to market and market penetration and contributes to enhanced safety and reduced cost.

C-V2X will also find its way into consumer-electronics smartphones for use by pedestrians, cyclists, and unequipped vehicles, due to its low power consumption and its possible integration with 4G/LTE chipsets.

C-V2X will also benefit from economies of scale, as it can leverage synergies between transportation and other verticals which are moving towards 5G e.g. e-health, smart cities, industry 4.0, smart farming, and more.

By when do you expect fully networked vehicles and road infrastructures to be achieved in Europe?

M. Flament: LTE-V2X technology is already commercially available across the globe. First C-V2X deployments on roads and in vehicles will be starting in China in 2020, to be followed by other regions, when the regulations allow it. As one example, Ford have already announced that they will deploy C-V2X in all new models in the USA as of 2022. In Europe, the connected cars are already a reality for some time now. And, for short range V2V and V2I, the standards are ready, the spectrum regulation is technology-neutral, the Delegated Act was objected. So, as long as different technologies can co-exist in the 5.9GHz band, C-V2X is ready to deploy.