France to try autonomous vehicle services in new Paris 5G trials

17 July 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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France is to begin autonomous vehicle trials in the Paris region as part of its ambitious plan to roll out 5G networks and services.

Sébastien Soriano, who chairs the telecoms regulator, set out the country’s 5G plans alongside two government ministers at a presentation in Paris – Delphine Gény-Stephann, an engineer who is now secretary of state for economic affairs and finance, and Mounir Mahjoubi, an internet entrepreneur who is secretary of state for digital affairs.

“Everything will be put in place in 2019,” said Gény-Stephann, speaking about the project to the newspaper Les Echos. “This is what we are preparing and France is well placed.”

Arcep, the regulator headed by Soriano, said: “Making 5G a priority is consistent with the actions being taken at the European level to meet the growing demand for connectivity, and to make European Union countries more competitive.”

The regulator has authorised two connected car trials involving Orange and Bouygues Telecom that will look at mobile data transfer for delivering information and entertainment, but also to permit what Arcep calls “platooning” – the grouping of vehicles into platoons along the motorway.

At the same time the Vedecom research institute – which specialises in carbon-free mobility – will work with Nokia to provide wireless coverage to autonomous vehicles outside the centre of Paris to compare different technologies, including both 4G and 5G.

Mahjoubi also called in Les Echos for 5G applications in logistics and industry. “You have no idea of the complexity of the information system of a connected port,” he told the newspaper. “On the industrial side, we would like to see very quickly the first connected agile factories, without any cables.”

Arcep said that the first 5G trials are already underway or in the planning stage in the provincial cities of Belfort, Bordeaux, Douai, Grenoble, Lannion, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Toulouse and Sophia-Antipolis. The government and Arcep yesterday announced the launch of 11 new trials in the Paris region of Ile-de-France, including the three connected vehicle trials.