EU parliament prefers WIFI over 5G for connected cars

The European Parliament voted on Wednesday in favour (304 against 207) of the older ‘proven’ technology of WIFI to let the cars of the future talk to each other, instead of the new 5G telecom network.

Now the Council of Europe, with the 27 member states, has the final say.

The European Commission already approved a set of rules favouring ITS-G5 WIFI over cellular phone 5G technology for communication with the connected car of the future. Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc, pleaded that WIFI is “easy to implement and cheap”.

Proven technology

WIFI isn’t bounded by patents like 5G, advocates of the technology claim, and it does not need a telcom subscription. They say WIFI is sufficient to send short messages from one vehicle to another, warning of an obstacle ahead, for instance. Another argument is that WIFI has been tested by car manufacturers for 12 years already and is, therefore, a proven technology.

The discussion, which is very technical, has led to two school of thoughts within the car manufacturers themselves. At the one end Volkswagen, Renault, Dutch chipmaker NXP, Israeli 2VX expert Autotalks and Austrian intelligent transportation systems provider Kapsch TrafficCom, who want to push WIFI to be used.

Their reason is that it is a proven and widely used technology that can be implemented quickly. They argue 5G is still to be fully standardized, is only in its infancy and the network is yet to be deployed, which could take years.

Future-proof 5G

At the other end, the cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) camp, has some major players too, like Daimler, BMW, Ford, PSA Group, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Huawei and chip makers Intel, Samsung and Qualcomm. They claim C-V2X has wider application possibilities and is ‘future-proof’. They say standardization and deployment can be done quicker than the other camp pretends.

The technology is said to reduce the latency – the ‘waiting time’ for an answer – to nearly zero, which will be crucial for the autonomous car of the future that will have to make decisions instantly, based on masses of available data.

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