The GSMA recently highlighted the dangers that the EU faced in being left behind in the race to 5G, because of its choice of WiFi as the standard for V2X communication in Europe. Vehicular communication has been a “poster child” for the new use cases that 5G can enable (amply demonstrated at MWC2019, where it was difficult to move for autonomous vehicles powered by 5G stands); so the GSMA’s concerns are to be expected.

The European Union risks undercutting Europe’s 5G future with its Connected Car legislation – GSMA

What is interesting about the GSMA’s communication, is its approach to changing the EU’s position. It highlights how WiFi is an outdated technology, how 5G and all its capabilities in Europe would be impeded by this choice and that Europe would somehow become isolated from the rest of the world in not adopting 5G for V2X.

What is not discussed is what the actual requirements for V2X are, and what its key players (namely car manufacturers and government transport departments) want. It is not our purpose here to compare technically the benefits of 5G over WiFi for Vehicle to X communications, there are undoubtably views both ways. However, we would highlight that the business and use case for 5G in V2X has clearly not been made, either to the EU or probably more importantly Europe’s car industry.

Simply because it’s cool or better does not mean the money is necessarily there, or that alternatives will not be considered – Appledore 5G report

In our recently published research 5G – After the technology Hype Fades – Preparing for profitability we highlight the need for 5G to be evaluated in the context of specific use cases (needs, alternatives, and willingness to pay). The whole 5G industry, including the GSMA, needs to move away from relying on general 5G technology hype as an approach to achieving 5G adoption. Instead, it needs to focus on clearly articulated business benefits from 5G which address use cases like V2X. Otherwise we risk a “better” technology becoming a new 21C Betamax.

Image courtesy of Henning Buchholz