Verizon on Tuesday announced that it has signed a deal with Audi to bring 5G connectivity to cars, marking its first deal with an automaker to power 5G-enabled vehicles. The deal should bring a bevy of new services and capabilities to Audi customers, ranging advanced driving and safety features to speedy in-car wi-fi and infotainment.
The collaboration will bring embedded 5G Ultra Wideband connectivity to Audi's US lineup, starting with select models for the 2024 model year. Verizon's "Ultra Wideband" network uses high-band, ultra-wide millimeter wave spectrum to deliver high-speed 5G. That's different from its "5G Nationwide" network, which leverages 5G and 4G. (Read more about the different "flavors" of 5G here).
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With this new deal, Tami Erwin, CEO of Verizon Business said in a statement, "Audi drivers will be among the first in the world to experience a new generation of automobiles, one in which their car is both a 5G mobile device and a vehicle."
That means passengers will be able to download or stream entertainment at higher speeds and better quality than before. Audi will be able to upgrade infotainment and navigation systems with HD/3D mapping and video, cloud-based user profiles, and mobile retail capabilities. Additionally, the vehicles will be able to receive firmware and software upgrades over the air.
Audi and Verizon are also developing cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technology that will allow vehicles to communicate with other vehicles and infrastructure around them. C-V2X technology is key to the development of connected and autonomous vehicles, allowing cars to gather more information about their surrounding environments.
While this is Verizon's first deal to bring 5G to cars, the telco giant has partnered with other automotive companies, like startups Renovo and Savari, to test C-V2X. Back in October, Verizon said it completed a research proof-of-concept with Nissan, demonstrating how its edge network can be used to process data from cars and surrounding infrastructure before sending back safety warnings to vehicles in near real time.
Its automotive goals are in line with Verizon's larger 5G strategy -- melding 5G with edge computing and creating an ecosystem with tech giants such as AWS and Microsoft Azure.
Meanwhile, Verizon has been aggressively expanding its 5G Ultra Wideband network. After spending an eye-popping $52 billion last year for C-band spectrum spanning the US, Verizon has used it to bring 5G Ultra Wideband mobility service to parts of more than 1,700 cities around the US so far.
Audi, for its part, is no stranger to technology. It says it was the first automaker to bring in-vehicle wi-fi to customers as well as 4G LTE connectivity in the 2015 A3.