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Connected cars: How 5G and IoT will affect the auto industry

Your next new car won’t be self-driving, but it will be a mobile IoT device that senses its local environment and communicates with cloud-based platforms.

Autonomous cars (and other vehicles, such as trucks) may still be years away from widespread deployment, but connected cars are very much with us. The modern automobile is fast becoming a sensor-laden mobile Internet of Things device, with considerable on-board computing power and communication systems devoted to three broad areas: vehicle location, driver behaviour, engine diagnostics and vehicle activity (telematics); the surrounding environment (vehicle-to-everything or V2X communication); and the vehicle’s occupants (infotainment). All of these systems use cellular — and increasingly 5G — technology, among others.

Although 5G networks are still a work in progress for mobile operators, the pace of deployment and launches is picking up. By the end of 2019, according to the GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association), 61 operators in 34 countries had launched one or more 3GPP-compliant 5G services. Of those, 49 operators had launched 5G mobile services, while 34 had launched FWA (Fixed Wireless Access) or home broadband services. Furthermore, the GSA said, 77 operators had deployed 3GPP-compliant technology in their networks and 348 operators in 119 countries were investing in 5G.  

SEE: IT pro’s guide to the evolution and impact of 5G technology (free PDF)

3GPP Release 16, which is due to be finalised by mid-2020, is an important milestone because it completes phase 2 of the 5G specification, catering for standalone networks that deliver not only enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) and FWA, but also ultra-reliable low-latency communication (URLLC, important for automotive use cases) and massive machine-type communication (mMTC, important for IoT use cases). Rel 16 also includes specifications around cellular V2X (C-V2X), covering areas like platooning, extended sensors, automated and remote driving.

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