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The 5G automotive group hopes Vodafone will help develop a networked mobility ecosystem (Photo: BMW)

Vodafone has joined a new alliance that promotes 5G connectivity as the new standard for the auto industry.

The mobile operator said it is joining the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) as the first network operator to participate. The group was formed in September by automakers Audi, BMW and Daimler and telecommunications equipment and IT companies Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Nokia and Qualcomm.

The association aims to speed up the commercial availability of 5G mobile connectivity so it can help automakers reachh their eventual goal of putting driverless cars on the road sometime in the next decade.

Autonomous vehicles need to be able to send and receive large amounts of data almost instantly, which is impossible with the current 4G or LTE standard.

Vodafone said it is already providing connectivity to around 10 million cars built by 19 different carmakers.

The 5G association needs broad acceptance of the new communication standard across all industries, as the so-called Internet of things takes shape.

Said Dino Flore, director general of the automotive group: "Vodafone's industrial leadership and its perspective as a network operator is an enrichment of 5GAA and will contribute to the successful development of a networked mobility ecosystem."

The 5G association, which is open to additional members, expects, among other things, to run joint projects that can result in integrated solutions and large-scale pilots and trial deployments.