Drivers, Start Your Internet! (Video)

Author:Ms Lindsay M. Miller
Profession:Ice Miller LLP

In 2016, the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") unanimously voted to open high-band spectrum for 5th generation ("5G") wireless expansion. This action will significantly impact connected devices and the Internet of Things ("IoT"), including connected/ autonomous vehicles. While we are still several years from true 5G deployment, this week it "accelerated into reality" according to a blog from Ericcson.

In advance of this weekend's 101st running of the Indianapolis 500, Verizon and Ericsson set up a network of small cell tower sites at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Small cells are defined by the FCC as "low-powered wireless base stations that . . . are intended to cover targeted indoor or localized outdoor areas ranging in size from homes and offices to stadiums, shopping malls, hospitals, and metropolitan outdoor spaces."

Verizon set up 25 small cells outside of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to help maintain connectivity for the hundreds of thousands of people who will be in attendance on Sunday and to demonstrate 5G capabilities. Verizon and Ericcson then completely blacked out the windows of a car, mounted a camera to the front of it, gave the professional driver a pair of virtual reality goggles, and had him drive (at ~60 mph) around a track based on the video feed on the headset. The video of this test is available here: 


Despite the thrill, as expressed by Fierce Wireless in an article regarding the test, "a lot of things will need to happen before we see 5G supporting autonomous vehicles on actual roads." This will include implementing robust broadband systems and ensuring secure maintenance and protection of the massive amounts of data that will be collected through the connected vehicles....

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