The European Parliament has voted to favour Wi-Fi technology based on the existing ITS-G5 standard as the communication technology standard to be adopted for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) across Europe (307 in favour and 207 against).

The decision comes after months of intense lobbying and goes against the European Parliament’s own transport committee’s recommendation to reject the Commission’s delegated act on the preferred communication technology standard for CAVs (the “Regulation“).  As we previously reported (see here), the transport committee had raised concerns about the impact that favouring Wi-Fi technology may have on innovation and technological neutrality.

Split opinions across industry

The decision will be seen as a positive result by longstanding proponents of Wi-Fi technology such as Volkswagen, Renault and the EU’s Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc. They have argued that favouring Wi-Fi technology gives Europe the best chance of achieving its goal of a rapid and widespread uptake of CAVs.

On the other hand, telecoms industry bodies 5GAA and GSMA, as well as other leading automotive manufacturers including Daimler and BMW, have supported long-range cellular technology (including 5G) as their preferred technology standard for CAVs, citing its ability to future-proof Europe’s CAV network and enhance the EU’s reputation as global leader in CAV development and technology.

Next steps

The European Council must now approve the Regulation before it can come into force on 31 December 2019. A vote was expected to take place in May but on 13 May the Council requested a two month extension to its review period to allow its legal team to consider the issues in further depth before it votes on the matter.

David Coulling
David Coulling
Partner, London
+44 20 7466 2442
Lode Van Den Hende
Lode Van Den Hende
Partner, Brussels
+32 2 518 1831
James Allsop
James Allsop
Senior Associate, Tokyo
+81 3 5412 5409
Milan Baxter
Milan Baxter
Associate, London
+44 20 7466 6441