EU Council Rejects European Commission's Wi-Fi Plans For Connected And Autonomous Vehicles

Author:Mr David Coulling, Lode Van Den Hende, James Allsop and Milan Baxter
Profession:Herbert Smith Freehills

In the latest development in the EU's long-running debate on the preferred communication technology standard for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), the Council of the EU has rejected the Commission's proposed legislation favouring Wi-Fi technology (the "Regulation"). Twenty one (of twenty eight) Member States voted against the Regulation; a result seen as victory for proponents of 5G technology

Lobbying pays off (for some)

The Regulation, once implemented, would dictate how CAVs 'talk' to each other and road infrastructure across Europe, including about traffic, hazards, speed and so on.

As previously reported here, the Regulation has been hotly debated since it was originally published in March 2019. The issue of which communication technology standard should be preferred for CAVs - short range Wi-Fi or long range cellular (C-V2X) utilising 5G - has split the automotive and tech industries and resulted in fierce lobbying from both sides.

The Council's decision to vote down the Regulation will come as welcome news to 5G supporters (including BMW, Daimler, Qualcomm, Samsung and Intel) who see CAVs as a key use case for 5G technology, with there being significant synergies between the roll-out of CAV technology and public 5G networks (see our previous article for further detail). By contrast, the decision is a blow to the likes of VW, Toyota and Renault, who have backed the Wi-Fi standard.

Technological neutrality

The fact that the Regulation favoured one technology over another has proved controversial throughout, with concerns being raised by various stakeholders as to the limitations it could place on the market. Indeed, one of the principal reasons given by the European Parliament's Transport Committee for recommending that the Regulation be rejected was that the...

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