Will V2V Survive Contact with 5G and Wi-Fi?

Automakers and mobile service providers have had differing views about how to supply vehicle-to-vehicle communications, but 5G could settle the matter. Car manufacturers, working with the the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, have been developing V2V communications for about a dozen years.

In fact, V2V proponents have been arguing with Wi-Fi interests about allocation of new unlicensed spectrum in the 5.9-GHz range that is intended to support V2V systems. And mobile carriers have good reason to argue that 5G will be a better choice by the time V2V is supposed to start being widely deployed.

Already, Audi, BMW and Daimler have formed an association with Qualcomm, Huawei, Ericsson, Intel and Nokia to study the potential of 5G networks for vehicle-to-vehicle communications.

In Europe the 5.875 GHz to 5.905 GHz frequency band is set aside for transport safety applications. V2V also is known as VANET (vehicular ad hoc network).

The thing about proposed new network standards is that delay tends to reduce or eliminate relevance, as newer platforms inevitably arise, often the most-powerful new platforms being able to leverage investments already made for some other purpose. So Wi-Fi, created to support in-building local distribution of traffic, now has emerged as a key building block for mobile communications.

Some would argue that V2V now faces too many obstacles to prevail, simultaneously having to fight off the Wi-Fi industry and facing rival platforms offered by the mobile industry, both of which arguably will have deployment economics working in their favor.

High-volume chipsets originally created to support either Wi-Fi or mobility (4G and 5G) can be leveraged to support new vehicular communications, while both Wi-Fi and mobile will have the advantage of in-place networks that have other revenue models. That will make easier the task of creating a vehicle-to-vehicle communications network.

Google's autonomous vehicle research, for example, might suggest that by the time a critical mass of vehicles equipped with the proposed V2V system has had a chance to be created, alternatives will have arisen, especially if those alternatives do not require ubiquity, but can be deployed on a “point” basis, incrementally, as users see value.

Already, some features that V2V might support already are being deployed on vehicles (lane change alerts, automatic braking, automatic parking) that might otherwise be seen as features of a new V2V system.

Given a choice between a proprietary, government-lead system moving slowly and an open, market-pushed alternative that “creeps in” as an “oh by the way” feature of systems with other value, many of us would argue the market-based system wins.
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