Safer and faster with mobile network standard 5G

In its telecommunications lab in Málaga, DEKRA is working hard to prepare for the advent of 5G. It will support manufacturers, network operators and other organizations in both the implementation and ongoing usage of the new standard in connectivity. Joaquín Torrecilla and José de la Plaza explain, what the new mobile network standard offers.

Joaquín Torrecilla, CTO von DEKRA Testing & Certification S.A.U. (im Bild rechts), und José de la Plaza, Direktor des Telekommunikations-Labors

Joaquín Torrecilla, CTO of DEKRA Testing & Certification S.A.U. (right), and José de la Plaza, Telecom Laboratory Director (left), explain how DEKRA is preparing for the new mobile network standard in its telecommunications laboratory in Spanish Málaga.. Foto: Jose Antonio de Lamadrid

How is DEKRA preparing for 5G?

de la Plaza: 5G is expected to bring very important improvements to the telecommunications arena in terms of much faster and more secure connections with very low latency and support for billions of energy-efficiently connected devices. To achieve this, a raft of newly developed technologies – radio access methods, communication protocols, network architecture etc. – will interact in a constellation that is both exciting and technically demanding in equal measure. DEKRA is readying itself to support manufacturers, network operators and other organizations in implementing 5G safely and reliably. Even today, we are involved in the development of 5G – collaborating with standardization organizations that are defining 5G standards. We also provide testing and certification services to ensure that the forerunners of future 5G devices are totally safe and compliant with both technical and regulatory requirements. Protecting transmitted data against cybercriminals is another area in which we are currently active. Uncompromised security, reliability, safety and integrity of the billions of connected devices will be critical in future.

Will 5G be the best solution for vehicle networking? Are there alternatives?

de la Plaza: Several technical solutions have already gone to market. Each concentrates on fulfilling certain technical demands. Some offer high data transfer rates, while others concentrate on maximizing the number of connected devices while simultaneously minimizing energy usage. Both approaches are sure to find demand for certain application areas, and will continue to play important roles on the market. There is, however, no current standard that unites all the aspects that we require of 5G. The 5G standards are being developed in an ecosystem of standardization bodies, international network operators, manufacturers, and many other influential organizations. They collaborate to develop standards and certification processes that ensure seamless connectivity. Products will then be developed in accordance and verified by independent test laboratories around the world. This ecosystem has a proven track record in standardization and global launches of affordable new technologies and services. 5G is set to be another chapter in this success story.

Torrecilla: In the vehicle safety field, the standardization organization 3GPP has only just developed a solution to address vehicle-to-everything, in short v2x communications. This standard is based on an evolution of the device-to-device communications previously available in 3GPP specifications. Future releases will bring new features for v2x, also based on the LTE system; while a v2x specification based on 5G is not expected until the end of the decade.

Speaking generally, can connectivity be considered a win for road safety, or does it introduce new hazards?

Torrecilla: Wireless networking can be a valuable addition to vehicle sensors and cameras, improving safety considerably by increasing the distance that cars can ‘see’ ahead. On the other hand, information and entertainment systems can distract drivers. There are two sides to every coin, and both need to be carefully considered and a sensible middle ground struck.

What challenges have we to overcome before vehicle networking improves traffic safety?

de la Plaza: Several factors must be considered in answering this. A communications network is a prerequisite for vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity. While necessary, guaranteeing wide coverage of such a network will be a huge financial and logistical hurdle for some of the proposed solutions. Another key success factor for vehicle-to-everything connectivity is the timeframe in which a critical mass of compatible vehicles is achieved. If only a limited number of vehicles are equipped with the technology, practical benefits will also remain limited. One key area of functionality – advance driver warnings – will only be effective with a rapid and large-scale roll-out of the technology.

Has legislation in key countries matched the rate of technological progress?

Torrecilla: Governments’ interest in vehicle-to-everything solutions has risen dramatically. Multiple pilot projects have been deployed to improve road safety in the USA, Europe and Asia in recent years. Some countries including Japan have already rolled out initial systems, while others such as the USA are still discussing when to enforce these technologies, and which standards will be necessary.

Over what timeframe do you expect the next steps in development?

de la Plaza: We observe the greatest dynamism in the area of 5G. The first stage of standardization for 5G, which addresses the most urgent framework data and functionality, is expected to be finished by summer 2018. Throughout 2019, the certification processes will be established and devices will be certified parallel to the deployment of capable networks. Phase two of the standardization, which addresses all the identified use cases and requirements, is expected to be complete by early 2020. The latter half of 2020 and 2021 will see network improvements implemented and the launch of certified 5G-capable devices. Field tests of specific functionalities and proofs of concept are, however, scheduled to take place over the end of 2017 and 2018.

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