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Illustration:Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Next-generation networks are expected to enable faster, more reliable data transmission and accelerate the deployment of better, safer autonomous vehicles. But a debate is raging over the right technology to achieve this vehicle-to-everything (V2X) connectivity.

Why it matters: If cars can coordinate themselves at intersections and report on road hazards, accidents could start to become a thing of the past. But for the safety benefits to be comprehensive, vehicles will have to communicate in a standardized language.

Background: In 1999, the U.S. federal government set aside part of the communications spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band for communication dedicated to improving vehicle safety.

  • As a result, certain automakers, as well as city and state administrations, began to implement Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC) — essentially a version of WiFi — by installing in-vehicle communication devices and road side unit (RSU) infrastructure.

Where it stands: Until recently, DSRC was the only available V2X technology. But now that cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) — which takes advantage of improved cellular networks — has emerged as an alternative, the companies and cities that have already invested in DSRC are hesitant to abandon it despite the newer technology's speed advantages. And automakers want global consistency on a single solution.

  • Automakers that were early adopters of DSRC are on one side of the debate, while those that didn’t invest in DSRC are keen to exploit the advantages of C-V2X. 
  • Because C-V2X leverages cellular networks, it won’t require a massive deployment of the RSU’s necessary for DSRC. However, it remains largely untested at scale.

What to watch: Unless the U.S. government mandates DSRC (which it has been unwilling to do), many feel a cellular approach will be the winner. Europe is leaning toward DSRC but the progress of C-V2X in China may prove decisive.

Go deeper: Automaker policy teams alternately make the case for DSRC and for C-V2X.

Eric Jillard is head of automotive industry at the World Economic Forum.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Hong Kong pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai detained on fraud charge

An activist holds a placard highlighting China's Tiananmen Square massacre as pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrives at West Kowloon Magistrates' Court in Hong Kong in November. Photo: Isaac Wong/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai is being detained until an April court hearing after the pro-democracy supporter was charged Thursday with fraud, per his Apple Daily news outlet.

Why it matters: The 72-year-old's arrest and denial of bail is another blow for the pro-democracy movement in the former British colony amid concerns about a fresh crackdown on activists.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Inhofe loudly sets Trump straight on defense bill

Sen. Jim Inhofe speaks with reporters in the Capitol last month. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senator Jim Inhofe told President Trump today he'll likely fail to get two big wishes in pending defense spending legislation, bellowing into his cellphone: "This is the only chance to get our bill passed," a source who overheard part of their conversation tells Axios.

Why it matters: Republicans are ready to test whether Trump's threats of vetoing the bill, which has passed every year for more than half a century, are empty.

Conspiracy theories blow back on Trump's White House

Sidney Powell. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

President Trump has rarely met a conspiracy theory he doesn't like, but he and other Republicans now worry the wild tales told by lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood may cost them in Georgia's Senate special elections.

Why it matters: The two are telling Georgians not to vote for Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler because of a bizarre, baseless and potentially self-defeating theory: It's not worth voting because the Chinese Communist Party has rigged the voting machines.