Adoption of 5G to Revolutionize Automotive Industry, pt.1By Alejandro Enríquez | Tue, 09/07/2021 - 06:00
Q: How has 5G technology advanced in North America and how is Mexico working toward the implementation of this technology?
A: In a 2, 3, 4 and 5G communication system, the raw material is spectrum. Spectrum is like invisible tunnels where devices connect through the air to the network in radio bases. There are thousands of radio bases that are all over the country and globally there are millions of them. The bigger these tubes are, the more capacity they have and the more radio spectrum they hold. Here in Mexico, we are working on 4.5G networks that offer almost 1 gigabit of data. However, 5G networks are still under development. We have been working with all operators in Mexico and throughout Latin America to support the evolution toward 5G. As of July 2021, 169 operators worldwide have launched a 5G network. In the US, South Korea, China and the EU, 4G networks were saturated and urgently needed to increase capacity. Operators in Mexico are investing heavily to deploy 5G technology and I am confident that this year we will have some news of rollouts in the country.
In the spectrum, there is a 5.9 GHz frequency where Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) technology is used, based on a standard similar to what is used in Wi-Fi. In the EU and the US, a piece of spectrum has already been set aside for the exclusive use of the automotive industry. This is what we are also recommending to the Mexican government. The automotive sector should have a spectrum of at least 40 MHz. In the US, 70 MHz were allocated for CV2X to have sufficiently large channels to be able to offer automotive services. These services could be warning systems, security, navigation, downloading of high-definition maps, traffic and environmental monitoring.
Q: The role of 5G in industrial applications, including IIoT, is increasing at manufacturing facilities. How is this technology advancing in Mexico?
A: The cornerstones of 5G are more bandwidth, better latency and more user capacity. When implementing 5G, these three pillars and the new frequencies on which this technology works allow for network deployments that are very different from what we are used to.
One popular approach is to use the 4G network as an anchor and add a traditional spectrum to it to get 5G. Eventually, this network becomes fully 5G because of the amount of data it is receiving. This is known as a standalone (SA) network and it opens up the opportunity to develop private networks, which are transforming many industries, such as mining, manufacturing, automotive and even infrastructure providers. For example, Germany already has more than 70 private or on-site networks in operation. Some companies in Brazil are also allocating spectrum for this. Mexico should also consider allocating certain frequency spectrums to deploy very specific networks.
Q: How is the semiconductor sector working alongside its partners to address the global shortage?
A: This is not a shortage but overdemand. All the supply chains have undergone major changes, leading to the overdemand of semiconductors. We had 500 million smartphones scheduled for 2021 and we had forecasted a US$9 billion budget between 2018 and 2027 for semiconductor technology for the automotive industry. Our forecast remains the same.
There have been, however, technological disruptions that have increased the demand from other industries. We have had to adapt because Qualcomm does not even make the chips. We develop the technology and the manufacturing models but the production is outsourced. In addition to the pandemic halting production, demand also increased because everyone now requires a smartphone, more computers and streaming consoles at home. We expect supply chains to stabilize in two to three years.
Qualcomm is a US technology company focused on mobile technology for data processing. The company was founded in the 1980s and over the years, it has generated technological breakthroughs on mobile connectivity.