Vodafone Group Services GmbH on the evolution to a fully 5G connected car
Automotive IQ interviewed Dr. Guido Gehlen, IoT Technology Strategy Enterprise Products & Solutions from Vodafone Group Services GmbH, with some insight into the current connected car services and Vodafone's role, the next phase of automotive communication towards 5G and long-term connected car vision from a telecommunication perspective.
Please tell us what are the company core competences of Vodafone Group Services GmbH and what is your role in your company? What is your main focus?
I am part of Vodafone’s global Enterprise Product & Solution organization for IoT. The responsibility of this organization is to maintain and develop Vodafone’s global IoT platform, the leading IoT connectivity platform with more than 50 m IoT subscriptions. The main vertical industry segment is the automotive industry, both for embedded connectivity and aftermarket solutions.
I am leading the IoT Technology strategy, ensuring that Vodafone’s global IoT platform is leading the market and providing key enabling technologies for our customers to grow and develop novel IoT business opportunities. The main focus is on Automotive, driving the development of IoT since several years already. The massive changes in the Automotive domain driven by e-Mobility and autonomous driving are an important driver for the evolution our enabler and platform.
From your perspective and under consideration of the overall trends in pre-standardization phase of 5G network, what are the major current opportunities and challenges for the industry at the moment?
The industry, especially the Automotive industry is very welcome to be involved in shaping the 5G standard for example through the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA). Vodafone is board member of the 5GAA to ensure that future automotive requirements are covered in the 3GPP 5G standardization and in product development. One of the challenges in 5G are the diverse requirements within the Automotive segment and across different segments and to map them to the different spectrum options for 5G.
From the above mentioned challenges & opportunities – could you briefly describe which projects the company is working on at the moment and what are the major achievements in these?
Vodafone is a board member of the 5GAA where future automotive requirements will be aligned with the 3GPP 5G standards. Furthermore, Vodafone Germany has opened the 5G Mobility Lab at the automotive test track ATC in Aldenhoven managed by RWTH Aachen University.
Besides, Vodafone is engaged with the automotive industry, car OEMs, suppliers, key strategic players, to co-develop first service based on pre-5G and 5G enablers. Vodafone works with our vendors and suppliers on pre-5G testbeds and pre-product development, e.g. Vodafone is testing at the highway A9 LTE-V2X. We had been the first operator who showed with Huawei and Bosch a direct car-to-car communication using LTE-V2X @ 5.9 GHz.
What are – from your point of view – the biggest challenges to implement 5G technology in Germany and – looking further into the future in Europe and how is your company trying to solve these challenges? What time line to you give the implementation of 5G in Germany and in Europe?
Germany is Vodafone’s lead market for 5G for automotive. The rollout will start around the timeframe 2020.
5G for automotive – what are the areas where telecommunication industry and automotive industry have to find a common base of technology and economic consensus and how far are we now?
Consensus needs to be found in a common and economical deployment strategy for 5G, which is very much depended on the spectrum that is being used. On certain 5G enablers, such as Mobile Edge Computing, the right technically and commercially viable use cases have to be identified. Vodafone’s approach is to invite the automotive industry to our labs and testbeds to coo-create these applications.
Can you give us a brief teaser of your presentation at the upcoming event?
My presentation will start with where we came from and where we are right now in the Connected Car space, followed by our next steps and our vision for a 5G Connected Car. This evolution is driven by the changes in the automotive industry, such as the move towards autonomous driving. I will present Vodafone’s vision how the future car and the passengers inside will be connected and where the first enablers can be tested in Vodafone’s labs and testbeds.