Connected Vehicles in Europe– The Transport Committee of the European Parliament does not endorse WiFi to the detriment of 5G

Connected Vehicles in Europe– The Transport Committee of the European Parliament does not endorse WiFi to the detriment of 5G

5G NR based C-V2X

The move from 4G to 5G has been triggered by the diverging necessities of providing ever increasing downstream bandwidth to our smartphones and simultaneously accommodating millions and soon billions of widgets of the Internet of Things. Hence NR, a New Radio protocol which is designed to simultaneously handle three usage scenarios: mMTC [massive Machine Type Communication], URLLC [ultra-reliable Machine Type Communication]and eMBB [enhanced Multimedia BroadBand]. eMMB targets your smartphone, while IoT comes in two flavours: mMTC for non-critical applications and URLLC for critical ones. Adoption of the protocols of 5G New radio is due by end 2019 with Release 16 of the 3GPP 5G protocol set.

Showcases for ULLRC typically concern connected vehicles: V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) e.g., collision avoidance safety systems, V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure), e.g., traffic signal timing, V2P (vehicle-to-pedestrian) e.g., safety alters to pedestrians and cyclists or V2N (vehicle-to-network), e.g., real-time traffic routing. All of these IoT systems involving vehicles have been grouped under the 5G NR C-V2X banner: Connected Vehicle to Everything through the 5G New Radio protocol.

However, the field of Intelligent Transport Systems, however new it is for the telecom industry, has been canvassed since 2004 by the automobile industry. Based on WiFi, the ITS-G5 protocol has been standardised in Europe by ETSI, Europe’s Telecom Standards Institute, in order to support DSRC (Dedicated Short-Range Communications) between vehicles (to present collisions) or between vehicles and roadside platforms (e.g. for electronic toll fee collection) and supported by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Mobility and Transport, ten years before DG Connect pushed 5G to achieve the same result.

The European Automotive industry is divided between the two standards: Volkswagen and Renault favour ITS-G5 while Daimler and PSA are backing 5G C-V2X. BMW tries to be technology-neutral. The choice of the French manufacturers can be explained by their alliances: Japan, home of Nissan and Mitsubishi, is tilting towards WiFi while China, which owns one third of PSA, has chosen 5G, like Korea. The USA made WiFi mandatory in 2016 for intelligent traffic systems but reversed this decision in 2017.

The European Commission is proposing to adopt a Delegated Regulation supplementing Directive 2010/40/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to the deployment and operational use of cooperative intelligent transport systems. This text, if adopted, would make it mandatory to implement ITS-G5 in Europe. On Monday, April 8, 2019, the Transport Committee of the European Parliament was asked to vote a recall of this delegated regulation. This issue splits industries, it splits countries, it also splits the political groups within the European Parliament.

Dominique Riquet, a Liberal-Democrat from France, a Vice-president of the Transport Committee, challenged the proposal of the Commission, explaining that it was not about playing one technology against the other, but that all the arguments raised on both sides about the availability of the technologies, about their performances, about road safety as well as about the global digital policy of the European Union were clearly showing that there was a doubt.

The opposite viewpoint was defended by Gesine Meissner, another Liberal-Democrat, from Germany. She said that the WiFi technology was mature while the 5G was not, that it was a matter of saving lives on European roads and that this issue could not wait another year.

The members of the Transport Committee voted for the recall of the Commission text. Now the plenary session of the European Parliament will be asked to confirm this vote.