Huawei 5G ban could leave UK in slow lane for self-driv­ing cars

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Alan Tovey

BRI­TAIN’S po­ten­tial to be a world leader in self-driv­ing cars risks be­ing harmed by the de­ci­sion to strip Huawei kit out of 5G mo­bile in­ter­net sys­tems, ex­perts have warned.

The UK’s com­mit­ment to ul­tra-fast con­nec­tiv­ity makes it the ninth-best des­ti­na­tion for de­vel­op­ing au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles, ac­cord­ing to con­sul­tancy gi­ant KPMG.

But this suc­cess is de­pen­dent on in­tro­duc­ing 5G quickly across the coun­try – and the roll­out is be­ing slowed down by min­is­ters’ fears that Chi­nese tele­com firm Huawei is a se­cu­rity risk.

Self-driv­ing cars will need a pow­er­ful dig­i­tal up­link to work. The ve­hi­cles are ex­pected to con­sume mas­sive amounts of data as they com­mu­ni­cate with each other to avoid col­li­sions and up­date the lat­est roads in­for­ma­tion.

Huawei equip­ment has been key to the coun­try’s 5G plans un­til now. The Gov­ern­ment’s rul­ing means all kit sup­plied by the busi­ness must be purged by 2027, and phone com­pa­nies have warned this will se­verely slow down up­grade ef­forts.

Coun­tries which take the lead in de­vel­op­ing self-driv­ing tech­nol­ogy will be able to cash in on a mar­ket which is es­ti­mated to be worth hun­dreds of bil­lions of pounds. KPMG ranked na­tions’ readi­ness for au­ton­o­mous cars on a com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors, in­clud­ing pol­icy and con­sumer at­ti­tudes to­wards them, along with tech­nol­ogy and in­fra­struc­ture.

Sin­ga­pore over­took the Nether­lands to take the top spot, fol­lowed by Nor­way, the US, Fin­land, Swe­den, South Korea, United Arab Emi­rates and then the UK. Den­mark was placed 10th. Bri­tain was highly ranked for its le­gal regime around au­ton­o­mous cars, with the Gov­ern­ment en­cour­ag­ing their de­vel­op­ment and leg­is­lat­ing to al­low road tests.

The UK’s fo­cus on pro­tect­ing self­driv­ing cars from hack­ers was also highly praised.

How­ever, wor­ries about in­fra­struc­ture and 5G in par­tic­u­lar caused Bri­tain to slip down the rank­ings.

Ben Foulser, KPMG di­rec­tor of fu­ture mo­bil­ity, said: “For the UK to re­main com­pet­i­tive in an in­creas­ingly 5G-ready world, there needs to be not only clear recog­ni­tion of the need to in­vest, but ac­tion.

“The ques­tion of where that in­vest­ment comes from re­mains to be seen, but with­out it, the UK will fall fur­ther be­hind its com­peti­tors.”

The find­ings came as Deloitte pre­dicted that by 2030 one in three new cars sold would be elec­tric.

Half of UK con­sumers have said they will con­sider a bat­tery ve­hi­cle for their next car, though ma­jor wor­ries re­main around charg­ing in­fra­struc­ture.

‘The ques­tion of where in­vest­ment comes from re­mains, but with­out it, the UK will fall fur­ther be­hind’

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