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5G technology provides many opportunities to improve traffic.
5G technology provides many opportunities to improve traffic.
( Source: gemeinfrei / Unsplash)

5G How 5G can help power a connected mobility ecosystem

| Author / Editor: Jamie Thomson / Isabell Page

As an emerging technology, the deployment of 5G networks is picking up pace across Europe. The wireless communication is set to disrupt many sectors, not least, the automotive industry.

According to research firm Gartner, by 2023, the automotive sector will be the largest market opportunity for 5G IoT solutions, representing 53% of the market. In short, 5G will enable more reliable communication and improve the safety of connected vehicles and smart cities. The technology will significantly reduce latency to around one millisecond over the air, enabling more responsive device requests.

The technology will also create economic benefits. According to a recent study from the 5G Automotive Association, the deployment of Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) could provide Europe with up to €43 billion by 2035, with most of the benefits being generated from increased road safety and traffic efficiency.

Vehicle connectivity

Reliable connectivity is an essential component of modern connected cars. They need to have both network-based and direct communications with devices. Whereas a vehicle-to-network (V2N) connection enables cars to connect with objects through a cellular network, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) connections enable direct communication with other vehicles.

Direct connectivity is used to share data between cars. It uses a 5.9 GHz spectrum band, which is designed to enable short-distance communications. As such, direct connections don’t rely on cellular networks, making the connection more reliable. In addition to V2V connections, vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) connects vehicles with the surrounding environment. For example, car data can be shared with traffic signals to ease congestion.

Vehicle-to-pedestrian connectivity, on the other hand, connects cars to pedestrian infrastructure, which can be used to improve pedestrian safety.

Vehicle-to-everything connectivity (V2X)

Vehicle-to-everything connectivity enables vehicles to connect with sensors, which opens up many opportunities for data sharing. For example, V2X allows cars to connect with various active antenna systems (AAS) that can be used to improve the travel experience. With V2X connectivity, journeys time can be reduced, which maximises productivity for travellers and mobility companies. By linking with city-wide traffic monitoring systems, traffic volume and flow can be constantly updated, enabling cars and emergency vehicles to be re-routed in the event of accidents and emergencies.

The challenges of integrating 5G in the automotive sector

For the automotive industry to take full advantage of 5G, several enhancements are needed to improve radio access technology and network architecture.

Radio access: Firstly, by improving the physical layer of 5G radio-access technology, latency will be reduced, making connected devices more responsive and reliable. An increase in the number of active antenna systems available is also required so radio units can be integrated with necessary hardware to boost network capacity.

Network slicking: Other features, such as network slicing, will also enable network capacity to be allocated more effectively so it can cope with high-demand for sensor communication. However, network slicing comes with its own challenges, such as how to manage resource sharing, configuring dedicated virtual networks to work in isolation and associated cyber security risks.

Investment: In order to build the necessary network infrastructure to host 5G technology, significant investment will be needed from mobile network service providers, public transport agencies and vehicle manufacturers.

Data management: Consideration will also have to be given to the management of such a large data ecosystem. In a previous post, Is there too much data going in and out of cars?, we reported a statistic from McKinsey, which suggests that a connected car can generate approximately 25 gigabytes of data every hour and as much as 4,000 gigabytes a day. With integrated 5G, data volumes will increase significantly, so effective management will be even more important.

Summary

  • 5G technology provides many opportunities to improve traffic congestion, reduce road accidents, increase road safety and improve travel experiences.
  • As 5G continues to make inroads into the automotive industry, we’ll continue to see innovations that connect vehicles with their surrounding environments.
  • There are several infrastructure challenges to overcome in order to fully realise the potential of 5G, however, with opportunity, comes investment.