5G connected car plans get boost as EU Wi-Fi plans rejected

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Plans to make Wi-Fi industry standard for connected car technology within the EU have been dealt a blow after they were rejected by member states.

As many as 21 member states have voted against the proposals, paving the way for 5G to have greater influence than might have been possible had the plans been approved.

The EU believes connected cars will make roads safer and vehicles more efficient but is concerned about the lack of cooperation within the industry.

EU 5G connected cars

It hopes that by creating a series of approved technical specifications for a particular technology will inspire confidence among consumers, manufacturers and other stakeholders such as insurance companies, encouraging connected car adoption.

However, the move to approve the Wi-Fi-based ‘ITS-G5’ standard ahead of the 5G-based ‘C-V2X’ is controversial. The EU’s view is that Wi-Fi is more readily available and could be used to improve road safety more rapidly than 5G, which will take time to rollout across member states.

Mobile operators, equipment manufacturers and car makers are split between the two technologies, as are individual nations. Many fear that a move to approve Wi-Fi ahead of 5G will lead to compatibility issues in the future and want a technologically neutral approach.

Volkswagen, Renault and NXP are among the supporters of ITS-G5, claiming it is better for time-critical communications such as crash avoidance and object navigation, while Ford, Daimler, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Qualcomm and Samsung are among those who back C-V2X. They argue that C-V2X supports a wider range of applications and is futureproof.

The debate is significant because the market for connected car technology and services is expected to be worth billions of pounds a year. Indeed, it was one the most promising applications for 5G and the US and China is expected to back cellular over Wi-Fi.

Vodafone and EE have already launched 5G mobile services in the UK, with O2 and Three set to follow later in 2019.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.