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Digital Transport Days 2019 – discussion on 5G Strategic Deployment Agenda for Connected and Automated Mobility

Europe set ambitious objectives for 5G deployment in the 5G Action Plan as well as for pan-European 5G Corridors for Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM) in its third Mobility Package. On 9 October 2019, the European Commission and key stakeholders discussed 5G deployment for CAM on the occasion of Digital Transport Days 2019 in Helsinki.

The second edition of the three-day conference, Digital Transport Days, organised by the Commission’s transport department and in cooperation with the Finnish Presidency, aimed at offering a European viewpoint on digital solutions for transport and mobility. The conference explored the latest developments in various fields such as data sharing or Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM), to help define and implement policies, as well as developing customer-oriented services.

5G is going to play a major part in the field of CAM and for the development of innovative mobile ecosystems for transport. This will contribute to enhancing road safety, reducing CO2 emissions and traffic congestion, and offering substantial opportunities for growth and jobs in Europe.

Two sessions on 5G for CAM

5G for the Automotive Sector

Two sessions of the conference were dedicated to 5G for transport. The first one focused on the automotive sector. The purpose of this session was to report on potential use cases in the field of CAM and mobility solutions, based on large-scale 5G trials funded under Horizon 2020. It also presented the views from the different stakeholders who will be involved in the deployment and use of 5G corridors for CAM (e.g. telecom equipment suppliers, telecom network operators, carmakers and road operators).

Participants underlined that Europe has a strong leadership in mobile communications and automotive industries, with world-class market players, and it enjoys a very dense network of highways throughout its territory. Yet, the provision of CAM services across intra-EU borders will require addressing a number of challenges in order to enable road users and solution providers to take advantage of the EU’s single market. The participants mentioned in particular the need to validate CAM use cases, to ensure business continuity of CAM services across physical borders and to tackle the investment gap triggered by heavy upfront costs required for the deployment of 5G connectivity infrastructures over highways on the one hand and the prospect of revenues associated with the building of a complex 5G ecosystem for CAM in the medium to long term on the other

In this context the Strategic Deployment Agenda for 5G CAM, which is currently being developed by stakeholders was introduced and discussed, as an input to the proposed EU Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Digital Programme for the deployment of 5G Corridors.

Strategic Deployment Agenda

The SDA initiative follows high-level discussions at the Mobile World Congress 2019, where the Commission encouraged key representatives of the mobile industry to boost investment in 5G technologies with a particular focus on vertical industries.

The initiative builds on the high-level process facilitated by the Commission, which led to the creation of the European Automotive Telecom Alliance (EATA). A network of 5G cross-border corridors has already been identified by EU Member States and will serve for large-scale experimentation and early deployment of 5G for CAM.

The latest draft (available for download here) presents an initial proposal for a common understanding of the 5G deployment objectives, service requirements (such as high capacity and reliability), and possible cooperation models when jointly investing in these pan-European 5G corridors.

It is planned to serve as an input for a public-private partnership on Smart Networks and Services. In general, this partnership should develop the next wave of technologies beyond 5G, and in parallel, contribute to the digital transformation of vertical sectors through deployment of connectivity infrastructure. In this context, its particular role will be to coordinate a pipeline of projects for the optimum use of public funding for 5G corridors, as proposed in CEF Digital. For that purpose, it will build upon projects funded under Horizon 2020 as well on cross-border cooperation agreements between the Member States for large-scale testing and early deployment. The latest months have seen a number of new developments, with a cross-border cooperation agreement signed last July between the Czech Republic and the Federal State of Bavaria for a 5G corridor between Prague and Munich, and the efforts by Spain in the promotion of 5G cross-border corridors with its neighbouring countries.

5G for other modes of transport

The purpose of the second session on 5G for CAM was to bring together user needs and mobility solutions based on 5G connectivity for various modes of transport. It complemented the session focussing on the automotive sector, and addressed other modes of transport that will ultimately benefit from 5G developments.

It opened with use case examples and solutions validated in ongoing EU-funded projects on 5G in the field of railways, drones and shipping, as well as a presentation of 5G satellite solutions. It was followed by an interactive roundtable discussion with representatives from the transport and telecom communities in order to reflect on potential use cases from both a user and provider perspective.

The discussions in the roundtable confirmed the role that 5G is about to play in the field of railways for operations and multimodal applications, including passenger services. Sectors involving drones, flying taxis and helicopters are also interested in 5G for mission critical applications and emergency services. River operators are studying the use of 5G for inland navigation but also for barge operators who need coverage for business and private use.