MADISON, Wis.—Huawei and Qualcomm, two cellular technology giants, are muscling their way into the nascent vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure communication market, often collectively titled V2X, by proposing a new LTE standard called “LTE V2X.”
The move is at odds with incumbent automotive technology suppliers who have been working more than a decade to develop and test — and finally implement — a Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) technology designed for V2V, V2I communications.
DSRC, based on the IEEE 802.11p standard, uses a dedicated wireless frequency — 75 MHz of spectrum in the 5.9GHz band — allocated by the Federal Communications Commission in 1999 specifically for intelligent transportation systems.
Meanwhile, proponents of LTE V2X are pitching LTE-based cellular network infrastructure as the basis of V2X. They claim that LTE Direct (LTE-D), also known as LTE Device-to-Device (D2D), offers a good foundation for LTE V2X development. LTE-D is said to enable discovery of thousands of devices and their services within 500 meters, thus allowing two or more proximal LTE-D devices to communicate within the network.
The result of these developments is a connected-car clash between the DSRC faction, and others jockeying for a foothold in the automotive industry in the anticipation of the emerging 5G cellular network standard. Cellular players are counting on 5G to offer native support for automotive-related communications.
As EE Times talked to several automotive technology vendors last week during Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) World Congress in Bordeaux, many were visibly unhappy about last-minute efforts by Huawei and Qualcomm to push an alternative V2X communication technology.
Lars Reger, chief technology officer of NXP’s Automotive business unit, believes DSRC has already come a long way. The technology, which has cleared a number of field tests over the years, is about to go inside new connected cars. Noting that LTE V2X is still in development, Reger estimated substantial delays before the new standard is finished, tested and accepted by the automotive industry.
Huawei’s timeline shows the LTE-V2X Study Item completing its work by the end of this year. The LTE-V2X Work Item begins in 2016.
Driven by whom?
So, here’s the question. Do carmakers now see something wrong with designing DSRC into their cars, after mulling it over and dragging their heels for more than 15 years?
When EE Times asked Huawei if carmakers have asked them to develop an alternative V2X technology, Jiansong Gan, technical director, connected car at Huawei, paused a second and said, “That’s a good question.”
But he pointed out that the advantage of promoting LTE-based V2X is that a “LTE cellular network infrastructure already exists.” There is no need to build a V2X infrastructure afresh to support DSRC.
Gan also cited the potential interference issues of 5.8GHz DSRC in China and explained, “In China, we need a different V2X solution.” The Chinese Communication Standards Association (CCSA) already launched a Work Item for LTE-based V2X in China.
Asked about the emerging conflict between DSRC and LTE V2X, Guang Yang, senior analyst responsible for wireless operator strategies at Strategy Analytics, called DSRC “still the mainstream technology for V2X.” He added, “Technically speaking, DSRC has nothing wrong, I think.”
Yang explained that the main target of LTE for V2X isn’t necessarily to solve any problem [with DSRC], “but to create new business opportunity for cellular industry.”
DSRC vs. LTE V2X
Let’s break down the DSRC vs LTE V2X issue.
As Huawei’s Gan argued, the biggest advantage of LTE V2X is that it could reuse the existing cellular infrastructure and spectrum. Strategy Analytics’ Yang said, “Operator needs not to deploy dedicated road side unit (RSU) and apply dedicated spectrum.”
Meanwhile, DSRC is using IEEE 802.11p, essentially a half-clocked 802.11a system. It is an approved amendment to the IEEE 802.11 standard that adds wireless access in vehicular environments and communication systems. Calling DSRC essentially “a Wi-Fi based technology,” Yang said, “So in theory, LTE could provide better quality of service than DSRC.”
On the flip side, though, Yang said, “LTE-based V2X technology is more complex and the market size is smaller than Wi-Fi. Currently DSRC’s standard is ready now, but LTE V2X is still in study phase.” He added, “LTE could bring some enhancements but may generate new problems.”
Not everyone believes that LTE is a better way to go for V2X, especially when a crisis hits.
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