BMW, Volkswagen and Daimler have already expressed interest in operating private 5G networks for their plants

German car makers are looking to deploy their own 5G networks in order to start manufacturing self-driving cars by 2021, German press reported.

Under such a scenario, car makers would not have to rely on German carriers’ future 5G network infrastructure. These companies are reluctant to entrust their digitized operations to network operators; the implementation of their own infrastructure would allow these companies to take care of their own data security and network reliability to avoid industrial espionage and hacker attacks.

According to the report, BMW has already informed the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) that it is interested in operating localized, private 5G networks. Similar steps have been taken by Volkswagen and Daimler.

The head of the telecom regulator said that companies from several industrial sectors have already made inquiries about deploying 5G technologies.

However, the regulator still needs to specify the process through which it will award 5G spectrum at the local level. The final plan on this issue is expected to be announced at the end of November.

In related developments, Audi agreed to form a joint venture with Swedish vendor Ericsson to establish a 5G test laboratory at its HQ in Ingolstadt, Germany, in August.

German carriers are also collaborating with industrial firms in order to pave the way for future 5G deployments. Deutsche Telekom is working together with lighting manufacturer Osram, while Vodafone has recently opened an industrial testing laboratory in Düsseldorf.

In September, German regulator had presented the draft terms for the 5G auction planned for early 2019.

The draft terms of the 5G spectrum auction do not require successful bidders to provide nationwide 5G coverage, but require a coverage of 98% of the households as well as sufficiently good coverage along federal and state highways. The country’s three telcos — Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica Deutschland — have previously said that deploying 5G all across the country would be a difficult target to achieve. Earlier this year, Germany’s antitrust regulator called for a fourth mobile carrier to enter the domestic market when 5G licenses are auctioned in 2019.

The Federal Cartel Office’s head Andreas Mundt suggested that market concentration has left Germany’s economy lagging behind its rivals in the race to build connected factories or put self-driving cars on the road. Mundt also called for existing mobile carriers to open up their networks on a non-discriminatory basis to third parties such as service providers and virtual mobile network operators (MVNOs).

Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica Deutschland have said that allowing network access to other operators and MVNOs would put them at a further disadvantage, as these firms will not have to invest significant resources in network infrastructure.

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