Trains, planes, automobiles… they all move fast — their network should, too. Transportation systems depend on a strong, secure network – drivers, passengers, employees, and even autonomous operations all rely on it.

5G connectivity is key to unlocking next-gen transportation networks and applications. Given the critical importance of safety in the transportation ecosystem, in addition to ensuring a seamless user experience, having ubiquitous and extremely reliable connectivity is mission critical. Managing multi-access technologies such as public 5G, private 5G, and Wi-Fi will play a pivotal role in ensuring reliable and secure connectivity across transportation use cases.

Traditional networks forced data back to centralized nodes, which increased latency by being further way from where the data originated.  With 5G, these nodes can now be decentralized and distributed in cloud deployments, bringing applications and the internet closer to the vehicle, and allowing unprecedented low-latency connectivity. Additionally, 5G provides improved security to aid car manufacturers and fleet managers to meet connected vehicle application security requirements.

Next-gen experiences in the connected car

The connected car has evolved since the early days of sending a signal once the vehicle was in an accident.  Today’s connected vehicle has become a bidirectional communicational channel. It must be able to communicate with the internet, other vehicles, roadways, intersections, and more for traffic, safety and entertainment use cases. Automotive OEMs must navigate how to seamlessly move a vehicle between environments, using multiple access technologies, and maintain network visibility, control, and reporting.

Connected cars are the most sophisticated Internet of Things (IoT) devices today with use-cases (onboard applications or services) ranging from notifying drivers of upcoming road hazards, emergency vehicles, or pedestrians in intersections, to telematics services that enable predictive maintenance of vehicle components, infotainment services to enable audio and video streaming apps (Netflix, Spotify), on-board Wi-Fi, high-definition maps, and a marketplace for retail use-cases.

In addition to these use cases, OEMs are looking at 5G as a critical enabler for autonomous driving with V2X services – where the car communicates with neighboring vehicles, roadway infrastructure, and an edge cloud – which requires periodic mapping updates and predictive intelligence with automated assurance to detect service anomalies and drive corrective actions. Additionally, software-defined vehicles require frequent software updates (FOTA/SOTA) which require reliable, high-bandwidth connectivity.

Commercial Vehicle (CV) OEMs are also leading the adoption of autonomous trucking (AT) technologies and building homegrown fleet management solutions. Pervasive connectivity with edge deployments supporting mission-critical V2X communications is a pre-requisite for CV OEMs to embrace autonomous trucking. Platooning, considered to be the first commercial AT application, is expected to generate TCO savings of ~45% by the end of this decade. Fleet management solutions for electrified, autonomous trucks will subsequently leverage 5G connectivity for predictive diagnostics and maintenance of vehicle components and powertrain. Figure 1 has an overview of connected vehicle 5G-enhanced use cases.

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