Maxime Flament:
Once 5GAA was created, it attracted enormous interest

One hundred years ago this year, radio communication between cars, the ancestor of V2X, was patented for the first time. To mark the occasion, we asked respected industry experts about recent milestones and what they expect from the future of V2X. In this episode, Maxime Flament, the CTO of 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) answers our questions.

Published April 14, 2023

What is the role of 5GAA in the development of V2X technologies?

5GAA was created a little bit more than 6 years ago, and we bring together the telecom and automotive sector, mainly to contribute to the advancement of end-to-end connected vehicle services. Beyond the commercial interest of our members, we want to provide social benefits with safer, smarter and more environmentally friendly solutions. We are active in all regions, because our members are global players, and it was always clear for us that 4G and 5G are the right technologies to focus on when we are talking about global telecommunications solutions for automotive.

We are looking at two different kinds of communications. The connectivity to the mobile network is a commercial service by the operators. It brings broad connectivity to different cloud services, to the Internet, and any other services that can be accessed through the Internet. The other one is the short range communication between different vehicles, between the vehicles and the infrastructure, and eventually also including pedestrians. It is low latency and independent of any mobile network operators. These two radio interfaces clearly complement each other. 

What brought 5GAA to life 6-7 years ago?

There were two different challenges. In 2016, the auto industry started real deployments of LTE based connectivity in cars, and this connectivity started to contribute to road safety with warnings such as local hazard warnings. This safety related traffic information, generated by the vehicles, was sent to the mobile network and generated warnings to the relevant vehicles that were passing by. This has really triggered the market and we clearly see that 4G and 5G are becoming the reference technology for connectivity in our cars.

In the meantime, the 3GPP, responsible for global mobile standards, started working on verticals around 2016-2017. Its focus was on how to design 4G amd 5G radio interfaces to serve the specific requirements of specific markets. One of these verticals was transport, but it was clear that the automotive industry is the real target. In order to make it work, telecommunications and automotive professionals had to start understanding each other. 

As a funny anecdote from these early days: people could talk about the problems they face on their network, and they would mention traffic, congestion, collisions, etc. After a while they would realize that some of them were thinking about radio networks, while the others about the road networks. All these terms exist in both sectors, on the mobile network and the road operator side, but, of course, they don’t mean the same.


What was the key in 5GAA’s growth?

Once 5GAA was created it attracted enormous interest. There were a lot of players who did not yet have a complete strategy to connect vehicles to the networks. By having all players at a global level in the same room, we ended up having a common understanding of how to eventually go to market, what really matters for vehicle manufacturers. We brought the right answers at the right time. In a world where harmonization and standardization are key, the industry players have to differentiate in other aspects such as the service they are providing.

What would you call the greatest achievement in the life of 5GAA?

At the time we started, it was not clear at all that all vehicle manufacturers would engage fully with 4G and 5G connectivity. We really established 5G as the reference communication for the whole industry, everywhere in the world. In short range connectivity, we managed to get from standardization to deployments in less than three years. By 2020, we had the first full scale deployment on the Chinese market, and now we are engaging with the US, South Korea and other places in the world. In Europe, the story is a little bit different because policy makers have been favoring ITS-G5. But 5GAA members are quite unanimous, they want to go beyond what ITS-G5 can do and make 5G-V2X the technology of choice.

In China, we also started to learn what works well on a large scale with a balanced use of mobile and short range radios. What makes big differences in connectivity, over-the-top cloud services, EDGE computing, and designing interfaces that are exchanging the right data at the right time for different road users. 

What are your future expectations for V2X?

First: making sure to completely embrace the opportunities related to the mobile networks. Second: to make sure that 5G V2X is market ready within the next few years. We are talking about 2025-2027 for mass market readiness. Then, the inclusion of other access technologies within the 5G family. One of them is the use of non-terrestrial networks, satellite communication, that would make sure that all parts of the world are covered, even where a terrestrial service does not make a commercial sense.