Industry groups blast European Parliament ahead of connected car vote

Members of the European Parliament are set to decide which type of connectivity technology will be designated as the standard for connected and automated vehicles in Europe, as part of the Delegated Regulation on Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) proposed legislation.

The Parliament is currently considering the older Wi-Fi standard 802.11p, but automotive companies and engineer groups alike believe a Wi-Fi-only standard would hamper development in the connected vehicle sector.

The European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO) is pushing for a technology-neutral decision that could accommodate new cellular technologies like 5G.

“Europe needs to stay ahead in the global competition for the future of automotive business models,” ETNO said in a statement. “If we mandate only an older technology like Wi-Fi 802.11p and exclude a future-proof one like 5G, we put Europe behind global peers like the U.S., South Korea and China.”

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While the C-ITS legislation does include a review clause that would allow for new technology to be recognized and used for connected cars, ENTO and others have argued that bill would still favor Wi-Fi over newer technologies.

“We agree with those who believe the review clause is not sufficient to ensure the Delegated Regulation is technology neutral,” ENTO said.

Automakers across Europe are embracing 5G. Volkswagen is planning to build its own 5G networks in its manufacturing plants in Germany next year, while Audi has been testing a 5G-based C-V2X technology with Qualcomm and Ericsson, along with the university of Kaiserslautern and Swarco Traffic System, using a cross-border digital test bed in France, Germany and Luxembourg. Daimler and BMW are also interested in developing their own 5G factory systems, according to German media outlet WirtschaftsWoche.

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Last month, the GSMA blasted the Parliament for the Wi-Fi-only proposal. In a statement released March 19, the GSMA urged the EU Member States and the European Parliament to reject the proposed rules and instead “maintain flexibility to encourage the deployment of more advanced technologies, like C-V2X connectivity.”

“This piece of legislation relies on a biased view of technology and impedes innovation,” Afke Schaart, VP and head of Europe of the GSMA, said in a statement. “If the EU stays on this road, it will isolate itself further in the global 5G race and severely harm 5G investment in Europe.”