HKT, Huawei, Qualcomm and the Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) joined forces to establish the Smart Mobility Consortium to bring cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technologies to hyper-connected Hong Kong.

The consortium, working with the government and industry partners such as carmakers to prove the viability of the new technologies, said it will study, test and implement V2X in the city, with plans to start trials “as fast as possible”, which HKT group MD Alex Arena (pictured 2nd from left) said could be 18 months. The group plans to approach the government for trial access to the 5.9GHz spectrum band.

It aims to introduce a series of intelligent transport services including a warning mechanism for collision, alert systems for speed and lane violations, and assistance for parking. It also wants to be able to inform drivers and traffic administrators of potential road risks in locations such as intersections and pedestrian crossings.

Arena insisted the government needs to take the lead and participate in V2X initiatives. “A government role is critical to make C-V2X a reality, which can make the roads safer and save lives.”

To start with, he suggested Hong Kong make road safety a top policy priority in its smart city blueprint, which is currently focused more on transportation efficiency through the adoption of intelligent technologies. “That safety element seems to be missing, but we’ve seen it in smart city initiatives in the US as well as China.”

The safety aspect, he said can’t be overstated because traffic accidents slow growth and create huge financial and human costs for the community.

Mantosh Malhotra (pictured far right), Qualcomm’s senior director of business development, said C-V2X technologies can extend a car’s ability to see and communicate well beyond a driver’s visual horizon, as well as share data in real time.

Spectrum key
Huawei president of TDD and LTE-E solutions Veni Shone (pictured far left) said the technology can make use of existing mobile networks, namely LTE, and noted the sector is seeing strong progress in Europe after governments released spectrum for trials.

He said C-V2X specs are frozen for the first release, with open field tests starting in Japan, Germany and the UK.

Arena said spectrum in the 5.9GHz band needs to be harmonised and assigned, which the regulator is currently studying. He said the group won’t push for the release of spectrum in the immediate future. “Once we conduct the trials with the spectrum on loan, we’ll share the results with the government and take the spectrum issue from there.”

To enable pilot field trials, he said the government also needs to open up access to road side units for installing base stations. In the long-term, the government will need to modify regulations and road rules as the new technologies are implemented.

Asked about adding new partners to the consortium in the future, he said it’s important to first get some traction and then “we’ll see how it goes”.

HKT is the territory’s largest mobile operator.