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Aug 9, 2019,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

European Union: 5G approved as the technology for future connected cars

The European Union has finally selected 5G, as opposed to WiFi, as the technology to be used in built-in telecoms systems for the connected vehicles of the future. Representatives from the twenty-seven EU member states overrode the standard previously backed by MEPs. This decision also pits two camps against each other: those who are for 5G and those who prefer WiFi. 


In the battle between WiFi and 5G in Europe, the latter came out as winner in Brussels on Thursday 4th July. Representatives from the twenty-seven EU member states voted for a 5G telecom system to be built into the intelligent vehicles approved for use in the European Union. The WiFi system was rejected, despite having been backed by MEPs last April, reported British press agency Reuters


Some car manufacturers prefer a WiFi-based system 


In the debate that pits 5G against WiFi, European leaders and MEPs – as well as various stakeholders in the car, high-tech and telecommunications sectors – have been split into two camps. The Volkswagen group was open about its support of a standard that relies on WiFi connections, as were competitors Renault and Toyota. This was also the case for semiconductor manufacturers NXP and various companies that specialise in technologies for connected cars, such as Autotalks and Kapsch TrafficCom. 

The main argument used by WiFi-backers was the immediate availability of this technology, which was developed several years ago. This means it can be used by industries sooner and will cost less – an important argument at a time when fifth-generation mobile networks are taking time to materialise, say critics.  


5G for more scope – and security 


Meanwhile, 5G was the preferred choice for Peugeot, Ford, Daimler, BMW, Huawei, Intel, Samsung, Ericsson and Deutsche Telekom. These heavyweights highlighted the superior performance of the new telecom technology, as well as the more extensive range of functions, tools and options that it offers. Future cars will thus be able to benefit from these new gadgets, especially in the fields of navigation and entertainment.  

The decision of the twenty-seven member states was confirmed by their respective MEPs on 8th July, when the official WiFi-based standard was rejected. “We will therefore continue to work together with member states to address their concerns and find a suitable way forward,” announced European Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc, following the vote. 

The ETNO lobbying group, which fiercely defended the decision in favour of 5G for road safety reasons, was delighted with the outcome. “Mobile solutions and 5G are back in the road safety picture. The automotive industry is now free to choose the best technology to protect road users and drivers,” said the group’s director general, Lise Fuhr. 


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