UK’s 4G Infrastructure Slammed By Automakers

An automakers’ representative body has condemned shortfalls in the UK’s existing 4G infrastructure at a time when the telecoms industry is planning 5G automotive capabilities.

The Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ (SMMT) report, Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Winning the Global Race to Market, compares the UK’s readiness for connected and autonomous vehicles with that of seven other countries including the US, Germany, Netherlands, South Korea, Japan, France, and China.

The indices used to measure readiness were ‘market attractiveness’, ‘enabling regulation’, and ‘enabling infrastructure’. The UK came first for the two first measurements but ranked outside the top three countries for enabling infrastructure. The nations whose infrastructure was ranked as the most CAV-ready were the US and South Korea, with the report noting their mobile network operators’ “relatively greater 5G-readiness”. However, the UK’s current 4G infrastructure was criticized for offering coverage levels of just 58% on the nation’s A and B roads.

The report concluded by urging UK government action to improve 4G coverage “to ensure a conducive technology landscape for deploying connected vehicles in the first instance and V2X applications that complement AVs later on the UK’s urban, rural, and motorway road networks”. This follows claims from the 5G Automotive Association that the technology is essential to support global rollout of automotive connectivity and is ready to do so.

While the SMMT praised the UK for having the most AV-friendly legislation of the eight countries studied, including “the world’s first insurance legislation” for the vehicles, it called for the government to update its “road traffic laws to enable the deployment of Level 3 AVs”. It praised Germany’s “forward-thinking amendments to road traffic law that allow the driver to perform secondary tasks while the automated driving system is safely engaged”.

The report also estimated that 20% of “consumer miles traveled” in the UK could be automated by 2030, compared with 14.5% in Japan and 12.5% in the US. ‘Market attractiveness’ scores were calculated by comparing adoption rates of ADAS, mobility-as-a-service, connected vehicles, and demand-responsive transport across the eight countries. While it rated the UK top in this category, it added that the country would need “improvements to infrastructure and a robust legislative framework” to deploy AVs “seamlessly” and this would depend on the country “leaving the EU in an orderly fashion and with a deal favorable to the automotive sector”.


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