Intel, Qualcomm, others duking it out in connected car arena

Audi (pixabay)
Audi is a member of the 5GAA, which is pushing for 3GPP-based cellular technology for car safety.

It seems as though everyone in recent days and weeks is jumping on the connected car bandwagon, and as research firm Mobile Experts notes, it’s as much a political battle as it is a technology one.

"A political battle is raging in the United States, with the auto industry pushing for the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Transportation to adopt DSRC using 802.11p," commented Mobile Experts Principal Analyst Joe Madden in a press release this week. "However, the wireless industry—led by Qualcomm—is pushing for extension of Wi-Fi into the 5.8 GHz band and LTE for V2V communications. The outcome of this politicized decision will have far-reaching implications, as many other countries are waiting for the USA to make the first move."

LEARN: V2X is about to change driving. Find out how at the FierceTelecom Learning Center

The new report by Mobile Experts on connected car technology lands just as Intel created a new organization called the Automated Driving Group (ADG) solely dedicated to the future of driving and designing the next generation of advanced driver assist systems and autonomous driving solutions. Intel this week announced it has appointed Doug Davis, who postponed his retirement, to oversee the ADG as SVP and general manager. That move comes as Intel on Tuesday announced that Tom Lantzsch, formerly with rival ARM, is joining Intel as its new senior vice president and general manager of the IoT Group.

Mobile experts chart

According to the Mobile Experts report, the overall number of wireless IoT modules shipped in the automotive sector will triple, from 200 million in 2015 to more than 600 million in 2021. Since only about 80 million vehicles are sold each year, that means that multiple radios will be used for each vehicle. Semiconductors for automotive IoT will grow steadily to about $5 billion in 2021, Mobile Experts predicts, noting that some cars will adopt LTE-M (Category-M1) modems with integrated transceivers for another step in cost reduction during the 2020-2021 timeframe.

The U.S. auto industry has been focused on Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC), which has been years in the making but more recently has been the topic of controversy as tech companies would like to see Wi-Fi share the band with incumbents and Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) crash-avoidance applications.

Indeed, the fight over which technology ultimately wins is alive and well. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers recently filed (PDF) their responses to assertions Qualcomm made about a rechannelization proposal that Qualcomm argues is the best solution to enable the successful growth of DSRC technology while opening a portion of the 5.9 GHz band for unlicensed Wi-Fi. Others also argue that LTE Advanced and 5G will provide both the necessary low latency and direct device-to-device communication required for safer roads and that DSRC remains unproven.

RELATED: Automakers take aim at Qualcomm over DSRC-related proposals

Intel and Qualcomm are both part of the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA), which last week released a white paper (PDF) discussing why Cellular-V2X (C-V2X) technology at the radio level is an essential enabler to transformational connected transportation services throughout the world. The 5GAA perspective is that 3GPP-based cellular technology offers superior performance and a more futureproof radio access than IEEE 802.11p and can leverage ETSI-ITS, ISO, SAE and IEEE upper layer standards and tests that have been refined by the automotive industry and others in the ITS community for over a decade.

The opinion of the members of 5GAA is that the advantages of 3GPP-based access technology are so profound to ITS applications that for 3GPP-based V2X to be excluded from the 5.9 GHz ITS band would prematurely push the most promising technology off the table. “We urge governments, automotive, telecommunications and other sectors to strongly consider the business and value proposition and the overall societal benefit of Cellular-V2X defined by 3GPP,” 5GAA stated. “Our position is clear: C-V2X can address all known use cases and can also address future ITS use cases offering full flexibility for different business models. C-V2X should be allowed to flourish by use of ITS spectrum to address many of these use cases.”

5GAA includes a cross-industry group of companies that includes auto makers and telecom heavyweights. Vodafone was the first carrier to join the effort in October, with Audi, BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Nokia and Qualcomm as founding members. Deutsche Telekom, Valeo and SK Telecom also have joined the 5GAA.