5G for automotive will hinge on building strong tech ecosystems

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Vehicle-to-infrastructure, for instance, is a 5G-dependent communication model for vehicles that will make it possible for cars and trucks to directly share information with components, including traffic lights, lane markers and streetlights, of an emerging smart-roads and highway system. With dense 5G deployments, it is possible to conceive a V2I communications architecture that allows data to be directly exchanged between vehicles and physical infrastructures over a ubiquitous and intelligent high-speed wireless network.

Work is underway to integrate onboard V2I sensors that can capture infrastructure data in an intelligent transportation system and provide travelers with real-time advisories on road conditions. Similarly, traffic management systems will be able to use vehicle data to adjust traffic flow by calibrating speed limits and traffic light cycles based on a real-time understanding of conditions on roads and highways. In the long run, the ability of hardware, software and firmware developed and deployed by this diverse ecosystem community will lay the foundation for scalable automated driving initiatives.

For wireless operators that have, until now, participated mainly on the fringes of the driving and vehicle ownership experience, the opportunities are nearly endless. However, while the widespread availability of ultrahigh-band 5G connectivity in particular will establish the underlying technology needed to bring the next generation of connected vehicles to market, there is significant pressure to get the deployment of automotive applications right the first time. This also will require an unprecedented level of collaboration and coordination between the automotive and telecommunications industry.

Challenges revolve around finding the best way to execute the integration and deployment of these technologies. Not a small feat, it is exacerbated by the fact that companies within these disparate sectors have drastically different histories, competencies and perspectives to achieving marketplace success. These are not small barriers to establishing the joint sense of trust that will be critical to moving forward productively. The attention generated by conflicts between airlines and wireless service providers regarding 5G towers and airports is a cautionary tale. In this case, the clash of cultures extended beyond a single enterprise to include the government agencies responsible for regulating their respective industries.

From a J.D. Power perspective, evolution in this sector will present a range of issues to be resolved in a mutually beneficial manner. For instance: Who owns the customer? Who is responsible for the risk? How will joint investments be calibrated? Whose reputation is most at stake should something go wrong?

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