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BMW and Samsung are Bringing 5G to an Electric SUV as soon as 2021

This story is part of our continuing coverage of CES 2020, including tech and gadgets from the showroom floor.

BMW plans to become the first luxury automaker to offer 5G connectivity in a series-produced model. It made the announcement jointly with Samsung and its subsidiary Harman at CES 2020, where it also shed light on its efforts to bring autonomous technology to the masses and make a car as comfortable as a living room. This announcement comes alongside many of the best cars we’ve seen at CES, including the Sony Vision S.

The production version of the innovative iNext concept due out halfway through 2021 will stand out as BMW’s first 5G-capable model. Klaus Fröhlich, the head of the company’s engineering department, said the technology will gradually spread across the entire portfolio of models during the early 2020s, though integration will vary depending on the model and the region it’s built for. 5G-compatible cars will rely on a built-in SIM card, so motorists will benefit from the technology even if they don’t have a 5G-capable smartphone in their pocket.

BMW and Samsung are jointly developing 5G components for automotive use, and the automaker’s engineers are working on integrating it directly into the car’s electrical system. This is an expensive process, but executives believe they’ll recoup their investment relatively quickly by offering digital services customers will be able to pay for. 5G notably makes zero-delay streaming possible, which opens the door to in-car gaming, virtual reality experiences, and movie streaming at resolutions up to 4K. Odds are most of these services will cost extra; they might be subscription-based, for example, or owners might choose to unlock them for a predetermined period of time.

How will 5g change the driving experience?

5G will transform the ultimate driving machine into the ultimate streaming machine. It will also let BMW integrate an array of semiautonomous driving functions that need low latency, guaranteed network coverage, and an allotted minimum data rate to function. The electric iNext crossover will support the high-precision Global Navigation Satellite System, which provides extremely accurate and reliable vehicle geolocation. In turn, this will allow the iNext (prototype pictured above) to drive itself when the right conditions are met, like on a multi-lane highway with clear markings.

Technology moves quickly, so BMW and Samsung are making 5G components flexible in order to easily update them when needed, even if it’s during a car’s life cycle. “5G technologies are a prerequisite for autonomous driving,” the company concluded.

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Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
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