Undoubtedly vehicles are smarter. Connectivity enables services like emergency communication and on-board diagnostics (OBD) for improved vehicle troubleshooting. Inter-car communication for safety has been a topic of significant research. It is now recognised that inter-car communication will reduce traffic-related fatalities.
We see the stories about inter-car communication, related to interaction between a car and its surroundings, including pedestrians, cyclists, and other entities. With the rapid advancement of connectivity in vehicles it’s going to be useful to have several fast communication technologies available.
The storyline around the 5G network is that it will benefit a connected vehicle eco-system. Why? Bandwidths that enable large data transfer, native support for peer-to-peer communication, improved reliability in transmission of messages, extremely low to zero latency, and failure tolerance features.
5G should also serve as an enabler for a new set of useable cases to extend safety in transportation. These include the sharing of sensor data between vehicles, improved positioning using wideband support, and sharing of high-definition maps for autonomous driving.
Over the last 4 or 5 years there have been several cross-industry alliances of leading companies, like Audi, BMW and Daimler, with telecom services and equipment providers like Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia. Semi-conductor companies like Intel and Qualcomm, all talking about evolving, testing, and promoting 5G network communications for connected vehicles.
A new alliance was announced in Detroit, mid-August 2021, GM and AT&T plan to add 5G connectivity to millions of new GM vehicles over the next 10 years.
The two companies are working together on a 5G network to deliver enhancements to road and highway coverage, music and video downloading, wireless software updating and navigation system updating.
Part of the plan is to commence the 5G connectivity offering by 2024 and would be available first on a few of GM’s select models. The current 4G LTE-equipped vehicle models from 2019 and newer will also be able to experience faster connection through wireless upgrades available through GM's network.
These enhancements are part of the foundation to GM's wireless update strategy, which is central to its growth plan. GM and AT&T have been collaborating and testing over the last two years, connecting vehicles to reach the goal of having the largest fleet of 5G vehicles. GM says it will also provide its strategic partners access to connect over AT&T's 5G network to deliver future mobility services, like e-commerce, smart city, and vehicle-to-electric grid.
The good and the bad of the 5G Network.
The 5G network doesn’t need large towers and it uses higher-frequency signals that allow higher-speed internet, giving about seven times faster connectivity speeds. 5G also has minimal to no latency, in other words, no buffering.
However, the use of these higher frequencies results in shorter travel distances, requiring more antennas and multiple access points for tall buildings. The 5G network is expensive and will most likely cost more with still some limited availability especially in low population areas.
You can’t use the older 3G and 4G devices on this network so there will be a slower uptake for the 5G network which will keep the costs higher for longer. The battery life will also be an issue until the device manufacturers start upgrading their batteries to take account of the power requirements of the network.