5G makes remote driving a reality


  • 5G is going to play a fundamental role in the development of the digital society. It will be a step change on the mobile experience.
  • The industry is eager to have something more than best effort internet.
  • World’s first 5G remote driving concept showcases 5G’s reliability, high data transmission capacity and low latency – key elements for remotely driven cars.


This week in the Mobile World Congress event held in Barcelona, Telefónica and Ericsson, in partnership with KTH and Idiada, showcased the potential of 5G networks to transform industries, such as automotive.

The demo was technically supported by high-frequency spectrum (15GHz), with ultra-narrow beams which followed a car / prototype continuously from the 5G base station - both located at the circuit of Applus Idiada, 70 km from the Fira in Barcelona - in order to ensure the reliability and ultra-low latency required by the whole network that connects the cars with the Fira.Several 4K videos streamed through that network gave the driver located remotely a complete and detailed sensory perception.

It also included one of the most advanced applications of the so-called “haptic communications” (also known as “tactile Internet”) which has the ability to control machines, including vehicles, by means of wireless connections.

"This is a real demonstration of how the potential of 5G can unlock new and exciting opportunities from markets such as the automotive sector which, properly addressed, can revolutionize traffic control in many ways".

Enrique Blanco, Telefónica's global CTO, has stressed that "5G technology provides the next level of customer experience, as well as the ability to deliver services faster, more flexibly and customized for specific applications. Beyond new radio capabilities, we try to show the new paradigms in network architectures. It is the networks that adapt to the needs of our customers, based on virtualized structures".

José Antonio López, Head of Ericsson in Iberia, says: “Partnerships will be key for the success of 5G. Ericsson has launched world’s first 5G platform and we have signed 5G collaboration agreements with 30 operators, 20 industry partners and 45 universities and institutes around the world. We are glad to partner with Telefónica to, once again, be ahead of the game and bring an end to end 5G Experience to MWC 2017”.

5G is meant to be a step change compare to what we get with 4G in terms of capacity, speed and latency that will make possible services like this remote driven car demo that needs of ultralow delay in the IP packets transportation. To be able to provide such revolutionary features, it would be necessary to combine the future new 5G radio capabilities with Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and Software Define Network (SDN) technologies. It is worth to say that such ultra-low latency feature won’t be provided to any service, only to those that really need of it. The provision of such different capabilities over the same assets is what is already commonly known in 5G jargon as “a network slice”.

Currently, the plain Internet access used for people to enjoy internet services has reached its limits in terms of performance and are not enough for other kind of applications. Internet of Things (IoT) in the wide sense, that require delay levels beyond the human capacity of differentiation are knocking the door, or ultrareliable networks that makes possible remote surgery or remote piloting like the case preented. All these new requirements are fundamental to spur new wave of innovation at industry level, what is being named as the Industry 4.0

Such Industry expectations of receiving almost fit for purpose networks over a common physical assets is what 5G promises.

Telefónica is making fast progress toward building a network designed with the future in mind. The company believes that the start-up of 5G networks is not tied to a specific single event but rather a process that the company has already begun. The evolution of LTE can bring in advance a good part of these 5G features so we are focused on completing nationwide LTE coverage, simplifying the network and increasing capacity progressively as traffic demands it and devices support it.



Lourdes Tejedor / @madrid2day

Telefónica Public Policy & Telefónica España Regulatory teams