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5G and Internet of Things might be ready to change the auto industry
Although 5G networks are still a work in progress for mobile operators, the pace of deployment and launches is picking up.
Automation technology might not be coming as soon as original estimated, but Internet of Things devices and cloud-based connected platforms will certainly change the way consumers drive very soon.
The modern automobile is fast becoming a sensor-laden mobile Internet of Things device, with considerable onboard computing power and communication systems devoted to three broad areas: vehicle location, driver behavior, engine diagnostics, and vehicle activity; 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.
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.
Work is now underway on Rel 17, which will include: enhancements to low-power wide-area connectivity (NB-IoT); a new feature called NR Light, which will cater for low-power/high-bandwidth wearable and IoT devices; support for millimetre-wave spectrum above 52.6GHz; MIMO enhancements; and support for non-terrestrial (satellite) networks.