Ericsson and SK Telecom spend a day at the races to demo beamforming

Wireless transmission at 3.6 Gbps to a car travelling at 170 kilometers per hour is not easy, but it remains to be seen how desirable it is.

In an era of constant, incremental pre-5G claims this one at least is a bit more racy (pardon the pun). Ericsson, SK Telecom and BMW have renewed their menage-a-trois, formed last year to look into 5G in an automotive context.

Their first effort merely demonstrated the possibility of using the 28 GHz band to deliver data to a car. Three months of relentless driving around and firing microwaves around like the culmination of a Star Wars film have yielded a nice, juicy peak rate demo – specifically 3.6 Gbps.

The laser beam analogy is not entirely facetious as the technology used to achieve this Herculean feat is beamforming and beam tracking. This essentially means focusing the transmission on a specific point rather than a general field, as is currently done. It’s difficult enough to do this with relatively static phones, but with sporty beamers (pun intended) the challenge is multiplied.

“Connected car is regarded as the barometer for 5G as it can only be realized through the combination of all 5G technologies,” said an unnamed SK Telecom exec. “As ultra-high speed and ultra-low latency are prerequisites for realizing autonomous driving and immersive media services, the 3.6Gpbs transmission speed we successfully demonstrated today not only brings us a step closer to realizing autonomous driving, but will also have a great impact on a broader range of industries.”

“Ericsson is working with leading operators and ecosystem players to drive the realization of 5G – both with today’s pre-standard field trials, and through standardization activities along with global standards bodies and industry groups,” said Thomas Norén, Head of Product Area Network Products at Ericsson. “The trial takes a step closer to 5G technology and commercialization, especially for connected vehicle applications.”

Both companies we keen to talk up all manner of utopian riches enabled by cars having really good connectivity, including V2X (Vehicle to Everything Communication), image recognition, augmented reality and remote control. These all sound great, but such a network will presumably be very expensive to build and maintain. The real challenge will be finding revenue streams to justify it.

In related news Nokia got together with Qualcomm and Alphabet’s Access Group (Google) to demo private LTE over CB radio at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “We want this trial to act as a catalyst for carriers and enterprises to start thinking about leveraging this band for new applications. Beyond the high speeds and amazing views this demo provides, the real opportunity is in the life-changing applications that will benefit from the 3.5GHz U.S. CBRS spectrum and transform users’ experience.”

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