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Standards leadership in action: How Nokia is making roads safer

Cars communicating

Imagine a highway where every vehicle isn’t merely connected to the cellular network but also connected directly to one another. These cars and trucks could share their intentions with one another. Vehicles could warn each other when they are braking, when they are changing lanes, or when their onboard cameras spot an obstacle that could cause a massive accident. Vehicles could get near real-time warnings from authorities and updates from roadside sensors about critical situations developing such as impaired visibility due to fog or pedestrians in the roadway

These road safety applications won’t happen overnight, but it is coming in the next few years, thanks to a global standard called cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X). It has taken tremendous effort in global standardization bodies like 3GPP, European Telecommunications Standards Institute and SAE International and in industry organizations such as 5G Automotive Association, but C-V2X is now widely embraced by global policy makers and regulators, whose stated goal is zero road fatalities by 2050. This year, the US Federal Communications Commission selected C-V2X as the most viable connected-vehicle solution for safety and automated driving. The French automotive association PFA recently announced its decision to pursue 5G-based C-V2X technology, and other stakeholders in Europe are expected to follow the same path. According to the 5GAA's roadmap, 5G C-V2X technology will be widely deployed in new vehicles globally by 2026. 

This is all happening thanks to a strong cross industry ecosystem, to which Nokia is an essential contributor. Many companies are vying for the title of standards leader in the telecommunications industry by pointing to various metrics: essential patents, technical contributions, committee and working group memberships. While Nokia has produced significant standards-essential intellectual property and is extremely well represented in the standards’ bodies, we ultimately believe leadership can’t simply be tracked through numbers alone. 

Standards leadership is a qualitative measure, demonstrated by the impact that a company’s standards work makes on society as whole and our industry at large. Through close collaboration with our peers, Nokia is able to shape not only the direction of the telecommunications industry but also to influence the connected automotive world. 

V2V, V2I and V2P

Cellular connectivity is certainly nothing new in cars. More than a decade ago, automakers began using existing cellular networks to offer digital services into the vehicles. Early adopters and road operators expanded on this by connecting vehicles across different brands to an intelligent road transportation and traffic management system. 

In short, these initial C-V2X applications made driving a safer experience while maximizing the world’s limited transportation capacity, even as millions of new vehicles took  to the roads every year. 

But we are now entering a second phase of C-V2X based on Cellular Direct Communication, also known as Sidelink. Using a dedicated frequency band at 5.9 GHz, this second iteration of V2X will allow direct communication between individual vehicles (V2V), between vehicles and roadside infrastructure (V2I), and even between vehicles and pedestrians (V2P). Phase 2 will complement network-based C-V2X and enable advanced use cases that have more stringent requirements on latency. Ultimately, it will pave the way to fully autonomous vehicles on our roads.


At first, however, C-V2X wasn’t in the running for these new V2V, V2I and V2P applications. The industry initially explored Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC), which is based on wireless local area network (IEEE 802.11p) technology. But DSRC failed to live up to cost requirements and wasn’t inter-operable with cellular networks, which led vehicle safety regulators to search for an alternative.

3GPP and other communications standards and industry organizations began to search for answers. That’s when Nokia brought its network expertise to the table, teaming up with a group of device and chipset manufacturers to propose Cellular Direct Communication. This 3GPP-defined direct link allows cellular devices to communicate with one another even when they move out of cellular network coverage. 

3GPP moved to adopt the new C-V2X specifications on Nokia and its peers’ recommendations. Then 5GAA, which was co-founded by Nokia, moved into action, quickly convincing regulators that C-V2X with integrated direct communication capability would meet their safety goals. This led regulators to allocate spectrum formerly designated to DSRC to C-V2X. 

Even as the first wave of C-V2X applications emerge, Nokia and its peers are working on future capabilities. For instance, we are now investigating ways in which LTE and 5G C-V2X can jointly use the 5.9 GHz spectrum. 

Leading across industries

C-V2X is a clear example of Nokia taking an active role in guiding not only standards in the telecommunications industry but also influencing another industry. In the case of C-V2X, the automotive industry and vehicle safety regulators had a problem to solve. Nokia and its peers were able to provide an answer, not by devising an entirely new technology, but by repurposing an existing technology. In doing so, we are doing our part to ensure that the roads of the future will be safer and can more efficiently handle future traffic demands.

This is just one of many examples of how seriously Nokia takes its role as standards leader. Last month, we related how our work on RedCap technologies have expanded the role of 5G to the internet of things. This summer we will share more stories about how our standards work has impacted the world.

For more details on Nokia standardization leadership, check out our Standardization page. 

Farah Sabouri

About Farah Sabouri

Farah Sabouri is a modem-system architect who has worked with 3GPP for more than 20 years. Her current focus area is standardization research in 5G for vertical industries.

Ling Yu

About Ling Yu

Ling Yu is a senior specialist who has worked in 3GPP standardization support for over 15 years. Her current focus is on 5G for vertical industries.

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