5G Will Create Cloud of Connected Vehicles

Earlier this month, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) group released the non-standalone (NSA) 5G radio specifications, the first official standard for 5G networks. This also includes an anchor for LTE.

A standalone standard (Release 15) for 5G is expected in June, according to 3GPP.

Once the world has the new generation of connectivity in place and all cars and vehicles are equipped with Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) technologies — something that should happen by 2025 — common sights on the road today, such as traffic lights and posted speed limits, will become obsolete.

The initial standards for Cellular V2X have been agreed to under the 3GPP Release 14, and called “LTE support for V2X.” Commercial roll out is expected to commence this year.

Some services will appear at the Winter Olympics as South Korea’s KT Telecom plans to have a 5G commercial network ready for the Pyeongchang Games in February.

The one issue that most industry stakeholders agree, as they confirmed in several sessions during Mobile World Congress 2017, is that 5G is not initially a technology for people’s handsets, but rather a way to connect the more than 20 billion devices that will be present by 2021.

The arrival of 5G standards opens the way for vehicles to be equipped with advanced technologies that require the security, performance and low latency of the new networks.

In September 2016, car manufacturers and mobile technology players created the “5G Automotive Association” to develop new offerings for autonomous vehicles using connected technologies, such as Cellular Vehicle to Everything (C-V2X) communication. And the new connected cars, equipped with Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and V2X technologies, are expected to pack in around $6,000 of electronics by 2022.

The GSMA, which sponsors MWC, predicted last year that annual sales of connections for automobiles will reach 91-million units by 2025.

The potential benefits are enormous, especially in reducing accident-related deaths and injuries. For example, the In-Vehicle Speed Limit Signaling could potentially reduce deaths by 15% and injuries by another 8%.

Traffic flow will be improved as navigation systems and apps can use the virtual network of vehicles to determine the flow of traffic and divert drivers to different routes to avoid congestion.

5G will also be key to launching fully autonomous vehicles. While the buzz about self-driving cars has subsided a bit last year, research continues at full speed. 5G connectivity is one of the key components to launch autonomous vehicles.

One of the most exciting advantages of connected cars using 5G is the potential launch of virtual cloud networks linking the vehicles in one area. The upcoming 5G networks will need a large number of cells to perform, as mm-wave frequencies limit the range of transmission — unless you want to stick your head in a massive microwave oven.

Thousands of cars can become the carriers, connectors, and on-the-fly storage for 5G infrastructure.

Security, obviously, is one of the main concerns. A network of highly-connected vehicles needs to be protected against hackers and other threats, such as network failures and natural disasters. That’s why the European 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership (5GPPP) has been working simultaneously on 5G development and security implementation.

In a paper published in June, the 5GPPP encourages its members to agree on several security technologies, such as Network Slicing, Microsegmentation, Strong Isolation, MTC Space and others.

Members have identified the 555G PPP security landscape and privacy as a 5G enabler and essential value proposition supporting the principle of privacy by design.

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