Vodafone joins 5G Auto Association, more operators expected

vodafone car
Vodafone has already started testing vehicle-to-vehicle communications (LTE-V2X) in the U.K. Image: Jaguar

Vodafone Group is the first operator to join the recently launched 5G Automotive Association (5GAA), a cross-industry group of companies that includes auto makers and telecom heavyweights.

Last month, Audi, BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Nokia and Qualcomm announced the formation of the 5GAA, where they plan on developing, testing and promoting solutions to make roads safer and cars more connected.

3GPP RAN recently completed the initial Cellular Vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) standard for inclusion in Release 14. It focuses on Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communications, with further enhancements to support additional V2X operational scenarios to follow in Release 14, which is targeted for completion in March 2017.

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Vodafone said that it has already started testing C-V2X, which includes LTE-V2X, and will continue that work as part of the 5GAA. In its announcement, Vodafone said it provides more connected car services – for more vehicle models, from more manufacturers and in more countries – than any other company.

It completed an initial validation of LTE-V2X on a private test track in the U.K. with plans to trial it in Germany. LTE-V2X enables cars to talk with each other to improve road safety and efficiency, similar to what Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) is supposed to do in the U.S. While some auto makers are rallying around DSRC, others argue that LTE Advanced and 5G will provide all the necessary elements and with better security.

Vodafone is now a Platinum member of the 5GAA and Luke Ibbetson, Vodafone’s group head of Research & Development and Technology Strategy, will join the board. “The communication between vehicles, infrastructure and pedestrians using C-V2X will be fundamental to the creation of intelligent transport systems. The technology that the 5GAA develops can lead to major improvements in driving and road safety,” Ibbetson said in a statement.

In the U.S., AT&T has been a major connected car proponent, having snagged the OnStar deal away from Verizon, and it claims to connect more than 50 percent of all new connected cars in the U.S. AT&T was the first major wireless carrier to launch a global SIM platform for cars, allowing developers of automotive, individuals and Internet of Things equipment to use a single carrier to wirelessly connect products across the globe.

There’s no word on other operators’ plans for joining the 5GAA, but Dino Flore, senior director of technical standards at Qualcomm and director general of the 5GAA, said they're welcome to join, and in fact, there are discussions ongoing with a number of them who may join in the coming weeks.

Of course, they’re not at liberty to disclose them. “The association is open to other service providers, and we would expect more to join. We wouldn’t speculate around specific operators or geographies at this time, but we do expect the organization to grow and diversify its membership,” Nokia's Thierry Klein, vice chairman of the 5GAA, told FierceWirelessTech.

5GAA activities are being organized along five working groups developing various aspects of the end-to-end ecosystem:

  1. Use cases and technical requirements
  2. System architecture and solution development
  3. Business models and go-to-market strategies
  4. Evaluation testbeds and pilots
  5. Standards, policy, certification and regulatory aspects

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