What Does the 5G Rollout Mean for Drivers?

Wall Street Journal

The objects that we interact with every day are becoming increasingly connected. As technology advances, we hear about more devices becoming “smart” – TVs, watches, glasses, homes and, yes, cars too. Remember when smart cars were a mind-blowing revelation? Now, the smart cars of today are in their mere infancy compared to what lies ahead – and the 5G rollout will accelerate the evolution. At Openbay, we like to keep our fingers on the pulse of automotive and technology advancements, so we looked into how 5G will impact drivers and the auto industry at large.

A “connected car” is equipped with internet access, connecting to other devices within the vehicle and or to other devices, networks and services outside the car including via a wireless local area network. To keep up with the ever-evolving Internet of Things (IoT), OEMs are manufacturing more and more vehicles with a new digital experience, delivering increased driver safety, enhanced vehicle management and extra convenience for drivers. By 2023, the number of existing connected cars is expected to amount to 95.7 million.

Connectivity is necessary for the advancement of autonomous vehicles, so faster in-car networks translates into bigger, better and faster technological advancements in the automotive industry as a whole. That’s why 5G is kind of a big deal. Autonomous vehicles need to be able to react instantaneously to changing traffic patterns in order to avoid obstacles and prevent accidents. These types of actions require bandwidth (up to 100 gigabytes of data per second) that would easily overwhelm 4G LTE systems. However, with 5G (fifth generation) on the horizon, we could be seeing download speeds about 20 times faster than 4G LTE. To put this into perspective, it will only take 0.6 seconds to download an hour of music on 5G, whereas it would take 6.9 minutes with the now-passé 3G network.

Antuan Goodwin of CNET RoadShow says, “The next time you’re at a traffic light, watch how the cars start moving one after another when the light turns green and how much time is wasted waiting for (often distracted) drivers to react. Now imagine every car in a column taking off simultaneously the instant the light changes. This would only be possible with a no-lag connection between the cars and the traffic light, the sort of connection promised by 5G.”

With increasing viability of autonomous vehicles ride-sharing growth is expected to skyrocket. With the advent of 5G, revenue growth from ride-sharing and Mobility as a Service (MaaS) companies, such as Uber and Lyft, is expected to grow from $30 billion in 2017, to $250 billion in 2022.

Competition amongst the makers of connected and autonomous vehicles is also accelerating advancements. A China-based startup recently unveiled its M-Byte concept, the “first Smart Intuitive Vehicle” with face recognition cameras for user identification, disappearing door handles, voice command and Air Touch to respond to your hand gestures. Ford has revealed that its entire lineup will be equipped with 5G modems by 2022. There’s even a 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) – a global, cross-industry organization of companies from the automotive, technology, and telecommunications industries (ICT), working together to develop end-to-end solutions for future mobility and transportation services.

It’s amazing to think about how far we’ve come since Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1990. Every five years since then, access speeds have grown by about 10 times. What seemed impossible then is a very real possibility now. Maybe one day your car can even schedule its own auto service, drive itself to the repair shop and pay for its service through the app. For now, you can book your car care needs at the touch of a button on Openbay.com or on the free iOS and Android apps.


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