After the slow holiday news season, I was curious what new initiatives the new year might start off with and who might be driving them. It turns out driving was the right verb there, and the question of who is a whole lot of folks. Starting yesterday afternoon, there has been an interesting set of interrelated announcements by a suite of big companies in and around cars and the internet of things.
Qualcomm, Ericsson, and AT&T are collaborating on 5G-NR trials that will use millimeter wave spectrum alongside the more usual sub-6Ghz spectrum to bring significantly bigger bandwidth to bear in the wireless world. They'll be tracking the 3GPP 5G NR specification, putting it through its paces in the US in the second half of 2017. Qualcomm will provide device prototypes, Ericsson the base stations, and AT&T the spectrum and network.
Ericsson, Orange, and PSA Group have teamed up on a 5G pilot project aimed at connected cars. They'll focus on Vehicle-to-Vehicle and Vehicle-to-everything architectures in the 'Towards 5G' connected car initiative. Ericsson will supply the radio and core network technology, Orange will supply the actual network and the spectrum, and PSA Group will focus on the actual cars and how they will use the connectivity.
Also taking aim at connected cars will be Qualcomm, Ericsson, AUDI, SWARCO Traffic Systems, and the University of Kaiserslautern. This group will be field trialing 3GPP-R14 vehicle-to-everything technology (V2X), with the X taking the form of other vehicles, infrastructure, networks, and even pedestrians. The initiative, known by the acronym ConVeX, will hit the streets of Germany this year.
And in the more general category of 'things', Verizon and Qualcomm are putting some new technology out there this year. Verizon will be making available a development kit for its ThingSpace IoT platform.that will leverage Qualcomm's Cat-M1 LTE modem. They are hoping to spur more rapid development of 'things' that will take advantage of the IoT infrastructure they've been building. Telit and Quectel modules are a key piece of the puzzle there.
So what do all these have in common? Well, for starters it's obvious that Ericsson and Qualcomm have been very busy stirring the pot on connected things wirelessly, and are setting the stage for a big, big year on this front. The technology they are working on is the key piece of the puzzle right now, and the carriers and automotive guys are still at the stage of learning what they can and can't do with it.
Taken together, all this suggests we can look forward in 2017 to a) a much better idea of what 5G really is other than 'better than 4G', b) more concrete examples of connected car technologies and what they may actually do for us, and c) IoT in general may be poised to turn at least a little of that buzz into reality. I suspect we will hear similar visions coming out of other vendors like Cisco, Nokia, and Huawei, working with some of the same carriers and probably different automotive groups on parallel projects across many geographies.
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