EU Member States reject connected cars legislation after telecoms lobby

The GSMA applauds the decision of EU Member States to reject draft connected cars legislation. The Delegated Act C-ITS would have locked in an ageing radio technology to connect cars and infrastructure with each other, thereby making it more difficult for advanced cellular technologies such as C-V2X to enter Europe’s market.

Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA, said : “Europe just got back in the connected car race against the US and China. Thousands of lives on the roads and thousands of jobs in our factories will be saved with this cutting-edge technology. Europeans will also save billions of euros in a more seamless single market.”

The main problem with the Delegated Act is that it fails fundamentally to deliver on our shared goal to make Europe’s roads safer and smarter. The Delegated Act makes a very clear choice in favour of wi-fi technology (802.11p) as the standard to connect cars and infrastructure. This choice is now widely opposed by key stakeholders. The car industry is divided, as well as the Member States – and even the Commission. To date, only one car manufacturer in Europe is planning to equip one of their models with this wi-fi technology by 2020. Many others in Europe – and globally – are opting for a more recent and efficient cellular technology innovation, known as C-V2X.

As shown in the infograph below, it is clear that C-V2X outperforms 802.11p in all respects.

The Delegated Act tries to overcome its obvious shortcomings by including a review clause that allows for other technologies to become part of the C-ITS ecosystem. This is simply not possible. To be added to C-ITS, there are demands of ‘interoperability’ and ‘backwards compatibility’ between 802.11p and future communication infrastructure. C-V2X cannot ‘talk’ to 802.11p, as they are different technologies that use radio waves incompatibly. It is like putting a DVD into a VHS player and trying to make it work.

The Delegated Act also fails to recognise the reality that the vehicle market is global. Since 2018, C-V2X is commercially available globally and is already becoming the standard for short- and long-range communications. This year, infrastructure and aftermarket devices are set to begin deployment. A range of OEMs plan to equip their automobile models with C-V2X, including BMW, PSA and Ford.

Lastly, and a crucial point for the GSMA, the Delegated Act directly undercuts Europe’s stated 5G ambitions. The EU’s 5G Action Plan calls for all “major terrestrial transport paths [to] have uninterrupted 5G coverage by 2025.” Rather than incentivising this outcome, the new legislation would be a blow to 5G rollout plans across Europe. As C-V2X is a key building block for future 5G networks, and as connected cars are one of the most important 5G use cases, this decision to prioritise 802.11p will hinder 5G deployment in Europe.

The GSMA stands ready to engage with the Commission in designing a truly technologically neutral piece of legislation, that will lead to a successful deployment of C-ITS in Europe.