ETSI enables software upgrades for connected car radios

connected car
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ETSI says its Technical Committee for Reconfigurable Radio Systems has developed a system which it says can enable gradual and stepwise deployment of software reconfigurable radios in connected cars.

ETSI’s Software Radio Reconfiguration model addresses a basic problem with connected cars: most new cars sold today offer connectivity as a feature, whether standard or optional, but these vehicles use 2G, 3G or 4G mobile networks to connect, while long before the end of their useful lives, 5G networks will be more common.

Put simply, the complete lifecycle of a vehicle is significantly longer than that of a mobile device, and completely out of step.

Meanwhile, customers expect their navigation systems to be connected, to download real time traffic information and map updates. Vehicle manufacturers increasingly provide remote diagnostics and vehicle software updates. As such, it’s crucial for the car’s radio technology to be compatible with existing network standards.

ETSI says the Software Radio Reconfiguration model provides a modular and scalable solution to the challenge of deploying and using software radio systems. The solution, described in a recent ETSI white paper [PDF] and in the EN 303 146 series of European Standards, allows a gradual and stepwise deployment of software reconfigurable radio. This enables device manufacturers to gradually implement software reconfigurable radios, developing confidence at each step of the way.


The ETSI Software Radio Reconfiguration model provides solutions to the following issues which all software radio systems must address:

  • How to transfer and install radio software components in a secure way
  • How to provide access to new software components to a user/operator
  • How to deal with device certification and type approval when new radio software components can modify the radio behavior of a device
  • How to provide software portability and achieve efficient radio performance
  • How to gradually evolve a system towards software reconfigurability.

With the use of software reconfigurable radio, the radio system on board a vehicle can evolve and improve over time, with new software upgrades.

ETSI says software reconfigurable radios will also help in other situations – for example, security concerns may require the upgrade and patching of radio systems deployed in the field. Yet manual intervention would be costly in the case of vehicles, or even impossible in the case of inaccessible IoT devices.

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