Wi-Fi-connected cars hit a roadblock as lawmakers accelerate to 5G

9 Apr 2019

Image: © adiruch na chiangmai/Stock.adobe.com

Critics call for more progressive 5G technologies in connected cars, arguing that including older tech such as Wi-Fi will put the brakes on innovation.

The transport committee of the European Parliament (EP) has rejected the European Commission’s (EC) plan to use Wi-Fi to enable connected cars to communicate with each other.

Instead, the committee voted to back calls from the mobile industry to support cellular and 5G technology for speedier communication between vehicles in real time.

Short-range communication

EU lawmakers are working to set benchmark standards for internet-connected cars, a market that could be worth billions to telecoms companies, carmakers, and a bevy of new start-ups and hardware makers.

However, the telecoms industry has beeped its alarm at a clause that requires new technologies such as 5G to be compatible with older technologies such as Wi-Fi for communications between vehicles.

The clause approved by the EC recommends the use of the Wi-Fi-based ITS-G5 standard for short-range communications. Various critics, from the telecoms industry to EC digital chief Andrus Ansip, as well as countries such as Finland and Spain, have expressed concern that the requirement will put a brake on innovation. They argue that harking back to older tech goes against the EC’s plan to promote 5G to boost economic growth in Europe.

The resolution passed by the transport committee argues that a “truly technology neutral approach would consider all existing deployments using cellular networks and grant mutual interoperability at the service level, allowing all new technologies to be introduced in addition to ITS-G5”.

It says that the next step is for the resolution to be put before the full chamber of the EP before the regulation is implemented in its present form.

The EP will vote on the proposal on 17 April, and it can only be blocked by a majority.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years