Nokia Chief Says Net Neutrality Hurts Driverless Cars

Robocars need map data right away--and will have to pay extra to get it

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Nokia Chief Says Net Neutrality Hurts Driverless Cars
Rejeev Suri, chief executive of Nokia
Photo: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The head of Nokia says a policy of net neutrality would deprive self-driving cars of the near-instantaneous data that they need. 

"There are some services that simply require a different level of connectivity," said Rajeev Suri at the World Mobile Congress, in Barcelona, on Sunday. "You need this differentiated quality of service." 

Autonomous cars use exquisitely detailed maps to refresh their onboard memory of the roads, and it greatly helps if they can enrich that data with just-in reports from other cars and the infrastructure itself.  Such vehicle-to-other, or V2X, communication can serve as a kind of auxiliary sensory organ. Nokia’s navigation business, Here, provides such services.

Suri thus adds a new variant to the old argument that faults net neutrality for giving users no way to get priority access to time-sensitive communications. The most commonly cited such communication is voice, which can be ruined by just a few second’s delay. Others include telemedicine and securities trading.

In its vote last week backing net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission ruled out giving priority to any kind of Internet traffic. Verizon, like other Internet service providers, was miffed at the decision; unlike them, it denounced the FCC vote in a press release written in Morse Code.

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