A new report from 5G Americas identifies a broad range of telecom provider connected car opportunities, including providing cellular connectivity and multi-access edge computing (MEC) to support intelligent transportation systems designed to make roadways safer and more efficient.
The 32-page report, titled “Vehicular Connectivity: C-V2X & 5G,” also serves as an excellent tutorial about C-V2X technology, the group of connected car standards around which industry seems to be coalescing.
The FCC essentially endorsed C-V2X technology in November, when it voted to dedicate 30 MHz of spectrum to the technology. The spectrum had previously been dedicated to an earlier connected car technology known as DSRC but few DSRC deployments have been made.
As the 5G Americas report explains, C-V2X standards define two basic types of connectivity. One is direct (PC5/Sidelink) connectivity that doesn’t require cellular connectivity. The other is cellular connectivity, known as the Uu mode or vehicle-to-network (V2N) connectivity.
The chips that underlie C-V2X can support both types of communications, the report notes.
Cellular communications are already in use to support telematics services and that’s where the telecom provider opportunities come in. And while 5G communications offers added benefits, such as lower latency, C-V2X also can support LTE communications.
Applications and Synergies
A key application for C-V2X standards is intelligent transportation systems (ITS), which will be comprised of networks of sensors, communications devices and other infrastructure. While some ITS applications will rely on non-cellular PC5/Sidelink communications, others will use cellular connectivity and some will use both.
As the report explains, the roadside unit (RSU) is responsible for PC5 communications but can also support cellular communications. The report cites the example of an RSU deployed on a traffic light that uses a cellular connection to obtain signal phase and timing information from a traffic management center and uses the non-cellular PC5 link to distribute the information to a vehicle.
The 5G Americas report sees synergies between transportation planners/road operators and cellular providers, who could share the cost of equipping roads with RSUs. In this process, the providers also would gain roadside access for small cells.
Telecom Provider Connected Car Opportunities
Other connected car opportunities for telecom providers noted in the report:
- Special service level agreements (SLAs) could be designed specifically for RSUs
- The RSU may be able to enhance broader 5G network operations by, for example, sharing information about vehicle locations and speeds that could be useful in managing beamforming in an area
- Cellular providers may be able to leverage their network infrastructure to provide virtual RSUs for areas where physical RSUs aren’t viable because of physical restrictions or low populations
- The V2N connection can be used to update software for vehicle operations and maintenance
- The cellular providers are well situated to operate MEC resources at cellsites and other locations to support vehicular services such as high-definition real-time maps, real-time traffic monitoring/alerts and various entertainment content
- The providers could provide peering with other mobile providers at MEC locations
- The providers can use network slicing to meet car makers’ requirements for lower-latency safety applications and for convenience use cases that are less latency-sensitive