Qualcomm applies for license modification for 802.11P DSRC prototype tests

Qualcomm building
Qualcomm's tests predominantly occur at its engineering facilities in San Diego and Bridgewater, New Jersey, but tests and demos can occur elsewhere in the U.S. as well. (FierceWireless)

Qualcomm has been a major proponent of Cellular V2X technology for the connected and autonomous cars of the future, so why is it testing 802.11P DSRC prototypes?

The San Diego vendor filed paperwork with the FCC on Jan. 25 requesting a license modification to increase the transmit power to some evaluation test units and said operation typically occurs at transmit power levels lower than what has been requested. The experiments use 5850-5925 MHz.

That Qualcomm is using DSRC prototypes is not surprising given that it has been involved in Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) tests for several years, starting with its IEEE 802.11P-based products. But more recently it has been on the cellular-based bandwagon, promoting C-V2X to connect vehicles to one another and everything else, including roads and public infrastructure, as opposed to using Dedicated Short Range Communications, or DSRC, which some auto companies are pushing for in the U.S.

Turns out, part of the reason Qualcomm continues to evaluate DSRC has to do with comparison purposes. “The experimental license will be used to test prototype equipment that operates in the 5850-5925 MHz band," Qualcomm said in a statement provided to FierceWirelessTech. "We will be testing the performance of C-V2X on its own for V-2-everything direct communication and evaluating DSRC under similar conditions. We expect to validate the performance advantages of C-V2X."

Qualcomm was granted authorization last year for a nationwide license to test commercial and prototype DSRC devices and new technology using a 10 or 20 MHz transmission bandwidth. The focus of the testing is with vehicle-mounted systems, but temporary fixed sites occasionally are used, according to the latest application.

RELATED: Two FCC commissioners advocate new uses for DSRC

The goal is to study the applications and services for the vehicle-to-vehicle and V2X market. The low-power testing predominantly operates at Qualcomm’s engineering facilities in San Diego and Bridgewater, New Jersey, but testing and demonstrations can also occur elsewhere in the United States.

RELATED: Qualcomm, Ford go big with plans to deploy C-V2X in Ford vehicles starting in 2018

Earlier this month, Qualcomm announced extended field trials with Ford for C-V2X in 2018, and both companies are expected to ramp up lobbying efforts for C-V2X this year. That’s in opposition to folks like GM, which announced last year that its new 2017 Cadillac CTS sedans would come equipped with DSRC.

Qualcomm’s first C-V2X commercial solution, the Qualcomm 9150 C-V2X chipset, is due to be commercially available in the second half of 2018, with plans for it to be featured in production vehicles by 2019. The 9150 C-V2X solution is being used in C-V2X trials underway in San Diego, as well as additional trials in Detroit.

Patrick Little, senior vice president and general manager of automotive at Qualcomm, told FierceWirelessTech earlier this month that while DSRC has been floating around for years, it hasn’t been firmly mandated and there’s a lot of enthusiasm around C-V2X and its ability to save lives.

Qualcomm is a founding member of the 5G Automotive Association, part of whose charter is to drive the C-V2X standard globally. It starts with C-V2X 4G LTE Release 14, but a big part of the value proposition of C-V2X is being able to leverage the 3GPP road map and the mobile operators’ footprint. “There are a lot of things about infrastructure and standards that we think will go toward longevity and ease of adoption if we go the Cellular V2X route,” in addition to its technical superiority, he said.