China to nearly double coverage of world’s largest C-V2X city network

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Screenshots of a C-V2X demonstration for collision warnings at an intersection in the eastern Chinese city of Wuxi. (Image credit: Huawei)

China aims to nearly double the coverage of the country’s first citywide LTE-based V2X (vehicle-to-everything) pilot project in Wuxi, eastern Jiangsu province, by the year-end.

China Mobile will accelerate the development of the intelligent transport system, already the largest globally, and expand its coverage to 400 intersections from 240 at present, the state-carrier revealed in an update on the sidelines of this year’s MWC Shanghai.

Wuxi began deploying the world’s first wireless vehicle communications network as a national pilot project with central government support in late 2017. LTE-V2X networking, which facilitates real-time communication between traffic-related elements, now covers 170 square kilometers of urban land. China Mobile, Huawei, and the public security ministry’s Traffic Management Research Institute act as the main developers.

With more than 2 million vehicles in circulation, Wuxi processes around 1.6 PB (petabyte) of traffic data each day on average with communication delays varying between 20 and 50 milliseconds, said Liu Wei, a vice general manager at China Mobile.

China Mobile also aims to begin sharing the traffic data with automakers for use on onboard platforms this year. Exploring business opportunities for V2X is among the new targets. Huawei has demonstrated 19 potential usage applications so far including emergency brake warnings from nearby vehicles, and a parking assist.

However, the lack of profitable models has become a key concern for the overall industry. “The commercial success of C-V2X requires sustainable business models, but right now we just don’t see many of them,” said Chen Wei, chief scientist at China Mobile Research Institute, at a 5G seminar. Deploying infrastructure to support large-scale, wide-area communications also requires a large amount of investment and therefore comes with uncertainty for carriers, Chen added. “This is something we need partners to invest in (with us),” he added.

Beijing is raising the stakes and taking the lead in the global development of intelligent auto tech, bringing forward vehicle-infrastructure cooperation and an intelligent transport system solution featuring V2X, as key parts of a technical strategy.

China plans to install wireless communication solutions (LTE-V2X) with censors on 90% of the country’s highways by 2020, according to a strategic plan released by China’s National Development and Reform Commission. By acquiring vehicle and road data using networks and sensors, public transport system will be able to more efficiently and safely. Hardware costs for autonomous vehicles will also be lower, the plan states.