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GM demonstrates some of the potential communication capabilities of DSRC technology, fitted for the first time in a production vehicle for the 2017 Cadillac CTS (all images: GM).

SAE Government/Industry 2018: AT&T reaffirms mobile 5G trials, DSRC ‘still alive’

At the 2018 SAE Government/Industry meeting in Washington, DC, experts continue to discuss the best method for automated-driving communication networks.

In Washington, DC, at the 2018 SAE Government/Industry meeting this week, cellular-communications giant AT&T affirmed in a session on connected-vehicle technology that it will launch ultra-fast mobile 5G service in limited areas sometime late this year.

And although 5G cellular communications promises to be a near panacea for the safety- and security-related communication needs of vehicles with automated-driving systems (ADS), another speaker at the conference asserted that 5G’s longstanding rival technology, dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), “is still alive.”

Zach Carter, AT&T’s principal member of the technical staff of IoT Solutions product development, said the company “has been laying the groundwork for some time,” for 5G deployment, calling 5G “a strategy to enable a connected ecosystem” for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication, as well as for an endless list of other internet-connected devices.

AT&T announced in early January that it will introduce mobile 5G service in a dozen U.S. markets in late 2018.

Carter said that in addition to theoretical speeds up to 400 Mbps, 5G offers extremely low latency, high throughput and “massive connectivity” capability. He added that the new 5G service will be standards-based (a crucial point for future universal adoptability) and will be backed by an all-new software platform called Network 3.0 Indigo.

Shortly after in the conference session, John Capp, director of global safety at GM, stated that DSRC, cellular technology’s chief competitor in ADS-related vehicle communications, is “still alive,” although many have questioned DSRC’s usefulness if 5G cellular service become ubiquitous. Capp reminded that GM’s Cadillac brand made the 2017 CTS the first production vehicle to be fitted with DSRC capability.

Advocates of DSRC point out that the technology, which has a range limited to about 300 m (984 ft), is available right now, while 5G has not yet reached pilot-program deployment; DSRC requires dedicated infrastructure, however, and the costs associated with a widespread buildout that already is in place for cellular communications.

AT&T’s Carter reminded that the company has demonstrated a “bridge” system that combines DSRC with cellular LTE service to transmit DSRC signals beyond its 300-m range. That demonstration was conducted with partners Delphi and Ford in 2017.

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