Point/Counterpoint: 5G or DSRC for Connected Vehicle Technology

Connected vehicles (CVs) use wireless signals to communicate with other vehicles (V2V) and with infrastructure (V2I) to relay and process important information about speed, trajectory, and roadway conditions. The vehicles can use the information to help avoid crashes, navigate around congestion, and smooth traffic. Eventually, CVs promise to help make automated vehicle technology more efficient and safer.

The CV policy debate is how to connect them. For years governments have developed standards and deployed pilots for dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) that permit two-way medium-range wireless connectivity similar to WiFi. Since then, cellular 5G technology has advanced to the point where some transportation professionals are advocating 5G instead for connectivity.

Vehicle connectivity has the most benefit if all vehicles operate on the same standard and use the same base technology. Governments are poised to invest billions in V2I technology that will remain for decades. In Eno’s 2017 Beyond Speculation report, we recommend that the federal government reserve the current spectrum DSRC, and continue to test and pilot different CV technologies. Has the technology reached a point where policymakers can proceed with one over another? Is sharing the spectrum, currently reserved for DSRC, between both technologies a viable option?

This week, we have two perspectives from professionals representing leading global automobile manufacturers that have taken two different approaches to connected vehicle tech.

Hilary Cain is the Director of Technology and Innovation for Toyota, handling policy issues related to connected and automated vehicle technology. She writes that DSRC is best suited for collision avoidance and other safety applications.

Jessica Nigro is the General Manager of Technology and Innovation Policy at Daimler North America, driving the company’s policy efforts on innovation and future technology. Her op-ed says policymakers should prioritize 5G cellular technology for V2X connectivity, and share the 5.9 GHz band for niche DSRC applications.

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