Vehicle to everything technology (V2X) is one of the most exciting and thriving areas in the connected car ecosystem. At the center of this promising technology are two approaches, both racing to the finish line and vying for the attention of automakers and government bodies.
DSRC, also called 802.11p, is built on tried and true standards and a proven record in truck platooning and smart cities. Volkswagen and GM have both adopted a DSRC-based version and the US government’s notice of proposed rulemaking and the European Parliament’s recent report has also weighed into the discussion.
On the other side is a cellular version of V2X, called C-V2X, built on either 4G or 5G networks and also embraced by some automakers and technologists, primarily for its future potential.
Let me tell you where I think the industry is currently and where it will go.
DSRC: On the road now with more to come
DSRC is mature, tested, proven, and ready for the market. It has been through the long and rigorous automotive qualification process, and is already in production at GM for US market. 5G is the new kid on the block – it’s powerful, has limitless potential and will bring a variety of breathtaking opportunities for the future in-vehicle experiences, new services and mobility opportunities. (5G is ten years behind DSRC in terms of automotive release and testing as a road-ready technology.)
Volkswagen Group, which includes VW, Audi, Skoda, and Porsche has announced its endorsement of DSRC for intelligent transportation systems (ITS) safety, and this means that a great number of European cars will be produced and driving around with the technology. Other carmakers are following Volkswagen & GM, down the path to DSRC.
C-V2X: Backwards compatibility challenge
One day, 5G will also be deployed in cars as cellular-based non-safety services are offered by more and more car makers. However, there are backwards compatibility issues with different releases of C-V2X standards by industry group 3GPP. The latest standard is Release 14 (R14) (for 4G, not 5G). But, the fact is R14 is not backwards-compatible with the soon-to-be released R15 (again, it’s for 4G, not 5G). In the same way, R16 (for 5G, not 4G) will not be backwards-compatible either. So cars fitted with different versions will not be able to talk to each other and thus, won’t work in my opinion.
Synergy with both DSRC and 5G, but each has its own merits
I see real industry interest now in DSRC, and I predict that the outcome will be more colorful than we dared to dream. In the future, with the C-V2X standard tested, proven and ready for production, 5G will offer great new consumer experiences. The two technologies can co-exist and they can be synergistic to a degree, but the safety-relevant features will be covered by 802.11p.
We welcome you to review our latest whitepapers on the merits of 5G and V2X and we also welcome your spirited debate.