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Wi-Fi vs 5G: the fight for connected car rages on

Wi-Fi vs 5G: the fight for connected car rages on

Wi-Fi or 5G? This debate is raging in the automotive industry. The way in which connected cars will communicate is indeed a major challenge for car manufacturers. Unfortunately, they seem to be well divided on the issue.

If Europe seems to prefer Wi-Fi, in order to get up and running as quickly as possible, the members of the 5GAA (5G Automotive Association), an group composed of several manufacturers (BMW, Ford, PSA...) and technology companies (Qualcomm, Huawei, Vodafone, Savari), continue their fight.

Wi-Fi or 5G: that is the question

Renault, Toyota, Volkswagen and NXP are fighting for Wi-Fi to become the standard, unlike the members of the 5GAA. For the time being, Wi-Fi has won its first victory because the European Parliament has favored this technology. But the text has yet to be ratified by the European Council and the 5GAA wants to prove that Parliament has made a mistake and that Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology, which allows vehicles to be driven in the European Union to communicate with the cloud and between each other, may already exist to address security issues.

In Berlin, 5GAA members therefore showed the extent of the benefits that 4G technology at the moment, and in the future 5G, can offer connected vehicles. The demonstration in the German capital thus focused on the safety that the adoption of the system could offer.

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Faced with the European Parliament's decision, 5GAA wants to respond and convince the public. / © AndroidPIT

From traffic lights to emergency braking

It is through several fun workshops that the importance of extremely low latency (which 5G can offer) has been demonstrated. One workshop, for example, highlighted the ability to facilitate traffic flow by opening up communication between vehicles and traffic lights, allowing cars not to stop or, in the event of high speeds, to slow them down to prevent accidents.

Another workshop showed the interest of the C-V2X system in informing drivers about work or accidents in progress, encouraging them to brake in an emergency or indicating which lane to use in order to let help arrive as quickly as possible in the area. According to analysts, the chances of survival for people in accidents could increase by 40% if police and emergency services arrived within four minutes of the accident.

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With Daimler, the Fraunhofer Institute has created a solution to facilitate communication between cars. / © AndroidPIT

Of course, a demonstration of remote driving was also included. In this situation, very low latency is obviously necessary.

Convincing the public and especially the European Union

The aim here was to send a message to the public, the specialized press and above all to the European Union that Wi-Fi was not the only option available for connected cars. Many specialists are also very skeptical about the possibility of interoperability between the two technologies in the future: "The two cannot talk to each other, it would be like inserting a DVD into a VHS player and trying to read it," explains Maxime Flament, the 5GAA CTO. However, work is currently underway to avoid a scenario where vehicles may not communicate with each other in the future.

It now remains to be seen what the European Council will decide in the coming weeks. For the time being, the EU's Wi-Fi plan is delayed by two months after 15 countries requested more time to allow EU Council lawyers to discuss the issue. As Reuters points out, the Commission's proposal can only be overturned by a blocking majority of EU countries.

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The deployment schedule envisaged by supporters of C-V2X technology. / © 5GAA

What technology do you think is most suitable for connected cars?

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  • Maybe I'm misunderstanding something here. The time it takes to transfer from one wifi hotspot to another makes me wonder how it is possible for a car to use wifi without being offline most of the time. If it is possible to stay connected to wifi while driving across a large city, I'd love to know what technique is being done as that would be a pretty fascinating article and something I'd love for my phone to be able to do.