European Commission Chooses Technology for its Connected-Car Legislation 

The Wi-Fi-based 802.11p gets the nod over 5G cellular, causing consternation with the GSMA and leaving telecom firms wondering what’s in store for them in this space.

By Murray Slovick, Contributing Editor

In Europe, as in the U.S., Wi-Fi-based 802.11p (DSRC in the U.S. and the Cooperative Intelligent Transport, or C-ITS, in Europe) and cellular’s C-V2X technology are competing to represent vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications.

In the U.S., the NHTSA has yet to take the next step toward mandating a protocol for vehicle-to-vehicle communications in new automobiles. However, in Europe, the policy-making commission last week indicated that communications of V2X technology between vehicles and urban infrastructure will be handled by a Wi-Fi-based solution in the 5.9-GHz band—not 5G cellular. The decision deals a blow to telecom companies’ ambitions.

The EU Commission’s Delegated Regulation supplanted an earlier directive (2010/40/EU) of the European Parliament with regard to the deployment and operational use of cooperative intelligent transport systems. The purpose of the new Delegated Regulation is to create the minimal legal requirements for interoperability for C-ITS and to enable large-scale deployment of C-ITS systems and services.

The benefits of C-ITS span a range of areas and include better road safety, less congestion, greater transport efficiency, lower energy use, and reduced environmental impact. C-ITS will enable vehicles to interact directly with each other and the surrounding road infrastructure. It involves communications for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and/or infrastructure-to-infrastructure (I2I), and between vehicles and pedestrians or cyclists (vehicle-to-everything, or V2X).

The focus of the new Delegated Regulation is on “day 1” services, i.e., C-ITS services to be deployed in the short term will focus heavily on road safety and traffic efficiency.

GSMA Weighs In

As would be expected, the Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association (GSMA), which represents the interests of mobile communications operators worldwide, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers, and internet companies, had an immediate and unfavorable response:

“The Commission has chosen to ignore technological innovation and choice, and instead stick with an outdated Wi-Fi (802.11p) technology for connected vehicles. The GSMA urges EU Member States and the European Parliament to reject the proposed rules that favor Wi-Fi technology to connect cars across Europe, and instead maintain flexibility to encourage the deployment of more advanced technologies, like Cellular-V2X (C-V2X) connectivity.

“Although the Delegated Act on C-ITS contains a review clause to allow for new technology to be recognized, its decision to start with already outdated technology as the standard and then demanding interoperability will lock out C-V2X from Europe for the foreseeable future, while wasting billions of euros in taxpayers’ money on roadside infrastructure investments.”

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

5G is expected to become part of C-ITS at some point, but for different C-ITS services. The EC says it will use “complementary technologies, offering different advantages: low latency for safety critical services, and high coverage using existing cellular networks”.


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