Automakers driving towards private 5G networks

As we look forward to the new year, the creation of private 5G networks in the future could be coming sooner rather than later, mainly due to concerns over data security and privacy issues.
25 December 2018 | 604 Shares

A car with driver assistance system with 5G technology drives on a test track at the 5G Mobility Lab of telecommunications company Vodafone in Aldenhoven, Germany, November 27, 2018. Picture taken November 27, 2018. (REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen)

As we look forward to the new year, the creation of private 5G networks in the future could be coming sooner rather than later, mainly due to concerns over data security and privacy issues.

It has been said that German automakers are aiming to bring autonomous cars to the marketplace by 2021, but do not believe the country’s telecoms network providers could be up to mark in terms of deploying 5G technology.

Apparently, these companies are looking towards setting up their own private 5G networks, in order for them to have full control over the data that is essential to their operations.

Speaking to industry press, BMW’s Head of Factory Planning, Joachim Gothel, has a compelling argument surrounding the future of car factories.

He wants self-driving forklifts to bring materials to intelligent construction robots, and ultimately, believes completed cars will drive themselves off the line.

With data speeds that could easily be a hundred times faster than contemporary mobile data performance, the 5G infrastructure will be very important to digitize processes, automate and be flexible in terms of car production.

Interestingly, BMW, along with Volkswagen and Daimler have informed the Federal Network Agency (BNA), an agency that provides oversight on use and ownership of the country’s frequency spectrum, about their intention of setting up private 5G networks.

“There’s a gold rush atmosphere about it,” said BNA President Jochen Homann, as many inquiries are coming from many industrial sectors.

It has been opined that automakers are wary of leaving their digitized operations in the hands of incumbent telecommunications providers.

“If the network breaks down, we can’t hang around waiting for a technician to show up and fix it,” said an industry executive.

The fears of data security, network reliability, industrial espionage, hacker attacks as well as network wear and tear, are real issues that automakers will prefer tackling head-on without depending on third parties.

Companies like Audi, a Volkswagen subsidiary, have already signaled its plans to set up a 5G test laboratory at its headquarters in a joint venture with Swedish telco Ericsson.

“Firms looking to operate their own networks will have to build a complete infrastructure,” said Nokia’s Vice President, Advanced Mobile Networks Solutions, Thorsten Robrecht, speaking to an industry publication.

However, this may be easier said than done. “Our preference is to supply network operators, as this gives us better effects of scale,” said Ericsson’s Head of German Operations, Stefan Koetz.