For the last partner interview of 2021, ERTICO met with the ICT4CART partner Magenta Telekom, a leading provider of internet and mobile communications, entertainment and business solutions in Austria. In ICT4CART, Magenta Telekom contributes to the task “Cellular Radio Networks” and supports the drive tests on the Austrian and the Austrian/Italian cross-border test site. Enjoy the reading!

  • Meet Magenta Telekom

Magenta Telekom (T-Mobile Austria GmbH) is a leading provider of internet and mobile communications, entertainment and business solutions in Austria. The company, which has around 2,400 employees and generated revenues of 1.3 billion euros in 2020, offers ultra-fast broadband via fiber optic cable and mobile internet, entertainment and the latest technologies for digital life.

As part of the Deutsche Telekom Group,  the company benefits from the innovative strength and financial stability of the Group is one of the world’s largest players in the telecoms market. In the 2020 financial year, the Group generated revenue of 101 billion euros. Magenta Telekom acts as a competence center for the Internet of Things (IoT) for the entire Deutsche Telekom Group.

  • Magenta Telekom in ICT4CART: what is your role?

In the ICT4CART project, Magenta Telekom is contributing to the task “Cellular Radio Networks”. This task deals with the required changes in the cellular radio networks to support automated driving functions. Magenta is also enabling and supporting the drive tests on the Austrian and the Austrian/Italian cross-border test site.

The Austrian Test Site is located near the City of Graz and its surrounding area. Magenta provides the coverage of the test track in Styria with LTE advanced radio technology. Carrier Aggregation is used in all Magenta LTE sites to provide higher throughput for data services. In addition, 5G NR coverage for 5G NSA (non-standalone, i.e. combined with LTE) is provided in parts of the Austrian test site and in the cross-border test site Brennerpass/Brennero between Austria and Italy.

Magenta Telekom plays an active role in mobile edge computing with the deployment of a dedicated MEC server in Austria, allowing low latency communication.

  • What are the required changes in the cellular radio networks to support automated driving functions?

The key capabilities required for higher levels of automated driving are predictable throughput, low latency and low jitter. Magenta will exploit technological advances such as 5G network slicing, precise positioning and edge computing, and apply them for the needs of automated driving level 3 and beyond. The continued rollout of 5G in cities and along major transportation corridors is a key prerequisite to support higher levels of automated driving at scale.

  • What are the challenges of mobile edge computing and precise positioning? And can they be overcome?

In combination with a short-range, direct vehicle to everything (V2X) communication, Cooperative, Connected and Automated Mobility services (CCAM) based on cellular networks will require distributed low-latency communication and computing capabilities. A key challenge is the harmonization of CCAM services together with the harmonization of the deployment of supporting communication and computing capabilities across mobile networks in Europe. The system needs to support both full in-country interoperability across mobile networks, plus cross-border interoperability. Mission-critical, latency-sensitive CCAM services will require service delivery in the visited (i.e. the currently used) mobile networks, a significant change over the currently common practice of routing all data traffic back to a home network (i.e. the network hosting the SIMs/subscriptions used for providing connectivity) before interconnecting to the cloud-based servers. Supplementary services, such as precise positioning, will also need to move from the currently cloud-based, over-the-top service provision to eventually local, broadcast-based service delivery in order to support millions of concurrent CCAM-capable vehicles in Europe in the future.

Magenta Telecom and Deutsche Telekom Group continue to support international R&I, pre-deployment and deployment activities in combination with standardization and harmonization activities in bodies and frameworks like 3GPP, ETSI, GSMA, 5GAA, Horizon2020/Horizon Europe and 6G-IA to pave the way for the deployment of CCAM during this decade.

  • According to your analysis, how will the market structure develop?

The market for connected and automated mobility is currently characterised by a significant and rapidly growing legacy of connected vehicles communicating with bespoke Vehicle OEM car clouds, plus an early stage of the market introduction of short-range communication vehicles by some, but not all Vehicle OEMs and corresponding short-range road-side infrastructures by some road operators of some, but again not all countries in the European Union, the European Economic Area and further countries in geographical Europe. Moreover, there are two competing, mutually not interoperable short-range communication technologies available (i.e. ITS-G5 and C-V2X PC5). In parallel, the harmonization of cellular-based CCAM services in initiatives like C-ROADS is progressing only slowly. Instead of fostering further potential fragmentation, the ecosystem players from both the private and public sectors need to come together and agree on harmonised CCAM services and a roadmap for the introduction of these services. This roadmap could then be used as a driver for the implementation and deployment of required capabilities in mobile networks, edge computing data centers, vehicles, traffic management centers, vehicle car clouds and beyond. Therefore, the evolving market structure for CCAM is supposed to include Vehicle OEMs, road operators, mobile network operators and edge cloud operators. Around this nucleus, CCAM and supplementary service providers, Vehicle OEM suppliers, digital road infrastructure suppliers, telco tower companies, telco and IT vendors will complement the market structure.

  • From Magenta Telekom’s point of view, what potential impact could COVID-19 have on further research and development and/or future actions of connected and autonomous vehicle technology?

COVID-19 has certainly slowed down Research and Innovation activities during the past 18+ months. Implementation in the field and testing on the roads became very complicated but, until now, this has only required project extensions of less than nine months, and projects seem on track to deliver in time according to the revised time frame. Further R&D / R&I activities and actions including (pre-)deployment should be prepared to allow for flexibility in their delivery schedules. As a side effect, we have seen that COVID-19 definitely had an impact on the mobility of people and transportation of cargo, shortcomings in the supply chain, etc. As a consequence, the need for highly automated mobility – at least for cargo transport – and thus for CCAM overall could result in a market pull situation, leading to more and accelerated projects and activities in this sphere to ensure interruption-free mobility/transportation despite COVID-19 and similar future situations, regardless of their nature.

  • Anything else you would like to mention or highlight?

ICT4CART presents an excellent opportunity for Magenta Telekom and Deutsche Telekom Group to understand the requirements and to support CCAM-type projects in an international, multi-player ecosystem setup. We see direct benefits to evolve our network and computing capabilities and offerings, plus indirect benefits from transferring results to other related CCAM projects, such as 5G-CARMEN.