Commission favours WI-FI over 5G

Updated: May 15, 2019

Following the adoption by the European Commission on 13 March 2019 of new rules in the form of a delegated act, a debate broke out in April on the choice of technology to connect cars in the future. On 8 April 2019, the Parliamentary Transport Committee (TRAN) voted in favour of an objection to the delegated regulation. However, Parliament voted in favour of the Commission's legislative act on 30 April. The committee's MEPs criticised that the regulation was not technology-neutral as the Commission defined the Wi-Fi-based ITS-G5 as the future standard. C-V2X based on 5G technology is thus systematically excluded or disadvantaged. The Commission's decision was preceded by intensive lobbying. Renault, Toyota, NXP, Autotalks and Kapsch TrafficCom support Wi-Fi as the standard for networked cars, while Daimler, Ford, PSA Group, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Qualcomm and Samsung support 5G.

Even the European Commission is not in complete agreement. The Directorate-General for Communication Networks (DG Connect) favours 5G, while the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG Move) supports Wi-Fi. The Commission argued that Wi-Fi technologies already exist and work, whereas 5G is still in its infancy. EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said in an interview with Euractiv: “First, WiFi is a proven technology and has almost no patents on it anymore. It’s available now, is easy to implement and it’s cheap. It’s affordable for everyone.” Focus is the improvement of road safety. 5G is simply not yet reliable. The Commission also warned that rejecting the legislation and changing the technology standard would result in a significant delay of two to three years. However, supporters of the 5G standard argue that Wi-Fi is limited in use and mainly connects cars with other cars. The 5G standard provides the ability to connect vehicles to both devices and other cars in the vicinity. Moreover, promoting only one technology is not future-proof and hampers innovation.

The TRAN Committee and industry representatives also criticise the Commission for demanding backward compatibility, which limits the development of innovative C-ITS solutions across Europe.

It is a delegated act. After publication, the European Parliament and the Council have two months to object to the entry into force of the act. The Council has not yet made an official statement.


Further Links:

-Text of the delegated regulation

-Euractiv interview with Violeta Bulc