Driverless tech’s best bet is with neutral-host networks
Millbrook Proving Ground and Midlands Future Mobility have opted to develop ‘neutral host’ networks.
These are allowing any connected and autonomous vehicle developer to work with any mobile network operator of their own choosing. While 5G Open Ran (O-RAN) is not an open source, it is a significant new network provision in the UK, and beyond, and UK government policy is encouraging mobile network operators to embrace new, disaggregated RAN solution that are built from open, multi-vendor blocks. They will include hyperscale could solution provides and form the basis of network basis for networks over the next decade.
UTAC CERAM Millbrook’s Peter Stoker, chief engineer connected and autonomous vehicles, and Alexandre Bastard, cyber-security engineer, explain why they are taking this approach. Stoker said: “Economics, economics, economics and good network performance! The opportunities to host multiple operators on common hardware infrastructure could be one of the major innovation areas for the future, enabled by the most recent releases of standards and industry interoperability efforts, like Open RAN.”
Bastard added: “In line with UTAC CERAM Millbrook’s model of independence and impartiality, the neutral-host concept is easy to visualize as part of the testbed. Instead of each operator (MNO) in a territory building and operating its own small-cell network, UTAC CERAM Millbrook and Dense Air have built and equipped a small-cell network, so MNOs can all share the network and deploy both local licensed and their own spectrum across it.”
Validating CAVs and networks
There is also a need to validate connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) on both private and public 5G networks, which can be used for in-house, private testing on site, and they suggest they can be extended using a virtual private network. They said the same “neutral host” network can also provide public mobile services for multiple mobile operators, and we are working to enable all options to allow a wide range of capabilities, including regular mobile network operators’ towers on site and shared 4G and 5G neutral-host networks enabling both private and public services.
With four mobile network operators working together, they can build 100% coverage across the strategic road network in the UK, or for that matter, in any other country. To fill any gaps and to augment coverage, shared 4G and 5G will be used.
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