New industry group plans 5G solutions for connected automated driving market

European car makers join hands with telecoms and semiconductor firms to help step up development of 5G standards

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 September, 2016, 8:24pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 September, 2016, 11:15pm

Huawei Technologies, the world’s largest supplier of telecommunications equipment, has teamed up with rivals Ericsson and Nokia in a new alliance that aims to help accelerate the creation of 5G mobile standards and support the growth of connected automated driving around the world.

The three companies, which are among the leaders in 5G research and development, on Tuesday joined major European car makers BMW, Audi and Daimler, as well as US semiconductor technology giants Intel and Qualcomm to form the “5G Automotive Association”.

In a joint media announcement from Munich, where BMW is headquartered, the association members said their goal was to address society’s mobility and road safety needs, with applications such as connected automated driving, while ensuring ubiquitous access to services, and integration into smart cities and intelligent transportation.

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“The creation of this association demonstrates the clear need for cross sector collaboration,” said Li Yingtao, the president of Huawei’s innovation engine called 2012 Labs. “It will facilitate global regulation, certification and standardisation efforts for autonomous driving and future car services based on 5G technologies.”

Alfons Pfaller, the head of infotainment development at Audi, added that connected cars “will shape the future of individual mobility, and next generation mobile networks will take car-to-x connectivity to a new level”.

The association said it would welcome more partners from the automotive and broader information and communications technology industry.

“Chinese smart car start-ups like us would definitely want to join this new 5G automotive group, so that we can understand potential 5G-related solutions,” said Shen Haiyi, the founder of Beijing-based Zhiche Auto. “We expect the association’s founding companies to help deliver major innovations in vehicle-to-vehicle as well as vehicle-to-everything communications.”

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Shenzhen-based ZTE, which is China’s largest listed telecommunications equipment manufacturer and a leading 5G proponent, offered no comments when asked by the South China Morning Post about not participating in the new 5G association.

ZTE and Huawei are both currently involved in the deployment of advanced 5G-ready mobile infrastructure in Japan by SoftBank Corp, the domestic telecommunications subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp.

The newly formed 5G alliance followed Facebook’s establishment of the Telecom Infra Project in February. This initiative has signed up more than 300 members, including Intel and Nokia to help step up 5G standardisation and global adoption.

“The wireless industry has always put a strong emphasis on standardisation,” Bernstein Research senior analyst Pierre Ferragu said in a report. He pointed out that complete 5G standardisation was still many years away, but deployment could happen earlier on a small scale.

Initiatives like the 5G Automotive Association and the Telecom Infra Project appear to be a new approach to speeding up international standardisation efforts.