By Michael Moore
Vodafone has revealed that its 5G network will be geared toward supporting M2M technology, and in particular, connected autonomous vehicles.
Speaking at the launch of the operator's M2M Barometer 2015 survey in London yesterday, Vodafone's director of M2M, Erik Brenneis, told TechWeekEurope that the company's plans for 5G connectivity were intended to make it a major player in the Internet of things (IoT).
"Our vision is to connect every machine which is out there…we are very well-positioned, due to our size, our capabilities and our brand partnerships we have," he said.
Full Speed Ahead
Revealing that it would also be targeting real-time critical applications such as those found in utilities and healthcare, Brenneis said that Vodafone was planning to replace existing dedicated fixed lines, which are expensive to build and maintain, with its new 5G infrastructure.
"The 5G network is being designed at the moment for such applications¾and also for the autonomous car," he said, "Car manufacturers are working with us on the requirements for 5G."
"Think about a world where there is an autonomous car that needs all these sensors¾but of course the cars also need to communicate with all the cars around itself, in real time,¾there's no time to send it to a base station, and then 100-200 milliseconds later to come back," he said, giving an example of a car braking to avoid an accident passing this information on to those behind it, allowing them to check their speeds before encountering the incident.
"There will also be a component of car-to-car communication, and all these requirements will be built into 5G networks¾that's super exciting."
Brenneis also revealed that Vodafone was interested in applying its networks to smart cities in general, as the spread of 5G will enable many more real-time applications that cannot be supported by current networks.
"Replacing the energy supervision management systems of a utility by mobile technology can only be achieved with 5G¾performing all the critical monitoring and switches for the high-voltage grid of the United Kingdom or any other country with only mobile technology cannot be done today on 4G," he said.
"Smart cities [are] something we're looking at right now," added Phil Skipper, Vodafone's head of M2M business development. "The way we look at it is seeing how smart cities evolve from having smart communities and smart infrastructures…so rather than trying to make everything in the city smart, as these things generally renew, where there is a strong built environment – you make them smarter."
"We believe in (smart cities)…but it will take a little longer," Brenneis added.