Europe's 5G vote for cars opens lanes for Qualcomm, Intel

Torc Robotics self-driving cars, dubbed Asimov
AVs will need 5G chips in Europe, an opportunity for Intel and Qualcomm.

5G automotive chipsets from Intel and Qualcomm could sell well into Europe in coming years, following a recent vote by 21 EU member states to reject Wi-Fi for autonomous driving. The decision paves the way for 5G instead.

Both Intel and Qualcomm, among others, have backed 5G for V2X (vehicle to everything) communications, which means connecting autonomous vehicles (AVs) to other cars, traffic signals and other infrastructure, as well as a wireless network.

On July 4 and July 8, the 21 member states rejected a European Commission motion for a Wi-Fi based standard that was backed by Volkswagen, Toyota and others. Germany, France and Italy were among the countries opposing Wi-Fi and represent several large car manufacturers.

The EU commission had said in April that Wi-Fi was available now, unlike 5G, and would promote safety sooner. But Wi-Fi is primarily suited for connecting cars to other cars, while 5G is considered more suitable to V2X. 5G has been backed by Qualcomm and Intel, as well as Ford, Samsung, Ericsson, Huawei and Samsung.

“Qualcomm and Intel win the most from this decision,” said an antitrust attorney based in Europe who writes a regular blog for Seeking Alpha called “The European View.”

"In general, moving to 5G for V2X is the right way to go," said Kevin Krewell, an analyst at Tirias Research. "It will get deployed commercially faster for multiple purposes, including V2X applications. It's definitely a good thing for Qualcomm and other cellular chip providers. The question for Intel is: does the company keep the 5G chip set business or does it sell it?"

Intel could sell several products for AV use: Wind River Helix Car Sync, Intel Go 5G Auto Platform, Network Edge Virtualization SDK, and In-Vehicle Solutions, an infotainment platform.

Qualcomm has introduced the 9150 C-V2X chipset, which is compatible with 5G.

The market for 5G chips is valued at more than $1 billion today and could reach more than $9 billion in 2026, analysts from several firms have reported.

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