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5G needed to ease 4G LTE congestion: OpenSignal

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(Image: OpenSignal)

Download speeds across 4G LTE mobile networks “vary tremendously” during the day due to increasing congestion, a new report from OpenSignal has said, with 5G networks primed to ease this traffic.

“Across 77 countries studied, 4G download speeds are between 31.2 Mbps and 5.8 Mbps faster at the best hour of day compared with the slowest hour of the day,” the mobile analytics company’s report said.

“5G will add new capacities to help with these wide time-of-day speed variations … 5G won’t just deliver faster speeds; 5G will provide a blanket of capacity, built using new high-bandwidth, high-frequency spectrum bands that will help mitigate the daily cycle of congestion we see on today’s 4G networks. These 5G services will support more simultaneous users at very fast speeds.

“Even the fastest 4G countries need 5G to counter big drops in speeds at busy times.”

According to the report, during the fastest hour of the day, Australia ranked seventh globally with 4G speeds of 50.3Mbps.

Ahead of Australia were South Korea and Switzerland, with both around the 55Mbps mark; the Netherlands and Singapore at around 54Mbps; and Norway and Denmark, at 53Mbps. New Zealand sat in ninth place, at fastest hour speeds of 45Mbps; and Canada in 10th, at 43Mbps.

Trailing these countries was the UK in 30th place, with close to 35Mbps speeds during the fastest hour of the day; and the United States in 47th, with speeds of almost 29Mbps.

In comparison of fastest hour speeds, Australia ranked fifth on average 4G speeds with just over 38Mbps. South Korea, Singapore, Norway, and the Netherlands scored 47Mbps, 45Mbps, 44Mbps, and 43Mbps, respectively, to round out the top five.

Canada was just under 38Mbps; Denmark at 37Mbps; New Zealand and Switzerland around 36Mbps; the UK at 22.5Mbps; and the US at 18Mbps.

“The US will be an interesting bellwether of 5G’s impact on congestion and speed consistency because it sits smack dab in the middle rank of countries for average 4G download speeds and in its range of speed variation by time of day,” OpenSignal said.

“Any improvements we see in the US mobile consumer experience due to 5G, we’ll likely see reflected in many other parts of the world.”

The times at which 4G download speeds are slowest also vary between countries, with the Netherlands reported as seeing its slowest speeds at 4pm; the UK at 5pm; Singapore and Norway at 6pm; Switzerland and the US at 8pm; Australia, New Zealand, and Denmark at 9pm; Canada at 10pm; and South Korea at 11pm.

Cities will benefit the most from 5G, according to OpenSignal, because this is where users see the most widely varying speeds throughout the day. For instance, Sydney sees fastest hour speeds of 56Mbps, average speeds of around 41Mbps, and slowest hour speeds of 33Mbps.

Similarly, Seoul has fastest hour speeds of 59Mbps, average speeds of 48Mbps, and slowest hour speeds of just under 41Mbps.

“Cities often have the latest 4G technologies deployed, and so should deliver the fastest speeds. And our measurements show they do, but only in the late hours night, when most users aren’t seeking a fast mobile experience. During the day and evening, speeds drop dramatically, highlighting the failure of current 4G networks to deliver a consistent experience,” OpenSignal said.

“Many of the new 5G-only spectrum bands are ideally suited to cities — such as mmWave — because of their short range and extremely high capacities.

“The new 5G bands will open up hundreds of megahertz of new extremely high-frequency spectrum for mobile broadband use, delivering much greater capacity to minimise the effect of congestion.”

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Mercedes-Benz unveils T-Class and EQT all-electric concept based on new Renault Kangoo

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We weren’t expecting Mercedes-Benz to unveil an MPV or small van, much less an all-electric microvan, but here it is. First off, the Mercedes EQT concept looks fantastic. It mends the styling attributes of a practical people carrier and a small luxury conveyance. Mercedes-Benz will debut two versions of the T-Class: Internal combustion (gasoline and diesel) and the EQT all-electric version.

“We are expanding our portfolio in the small van segment with the forthcoming T-Class,” said Marcus Breitschwerdt, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans. “It will appeal to families and all those private customers, whatever their age, who enjoy leisure activities and need a lot of space and maximum variability without forgoing comfort and style.”

Let’s start with the Mercedes T-Class, the one arriving with a slew of gasoline and diesel engines in Europe. Based on the all-new, third-gen Renault Kangoo, the T-Class is riding on Renault’s CMF-B platform, capable of supporting internal combustion and all-electric powertrains.

Measuring 4,945 mm in length, 1,863 mm wide, and 1,866 mm high, the T-Class has seven seats, two sliding doors, and second-row seats that can accommodate up to three child seats. The concept is wearing premium white Nappa leather upholstery, but we’re expecting the production version to get wear-resistant nylon materials in lower-trim models.

Of course, MBUX infotainment will come standard, and Mercedes promises the dashboard and control layouts of the concept will make it to production. It will arrive with a slew of advanced safety features and driving aids like automatic emergency braking, lane assist, adaptive cruise control, trailer stability control, and crosswind assist, to name a few.

Meanwhile, the EQT all-electric version is a hardware clone of the Renault Kangoo E-Tech Electric model, and it’s the ninth member of Mercedes-Benz’s all-electric EQ family. The concept bears tasty exterior bits like a black panel grille with 3D star-effect lighting, futuristic LED taillights, and a full-width LED light bar in the rear. It also has 21-inch aero wheels wrapped in low-profile tires and a unique bottle-shaped panoramic glass roof.

Admittedly, the production EQT will be a toned-down version of the concept seen here. Then again, Mercedes-Benz claims the packaging, body style, and practical features will remain unchanged, and that’s good news. Powertrain options for the EQT remain unannounced, but we have an idea.

Most likely, the EQT will have a single electric motor pumping out 101 horsepower, drawing juice from a 45 kWh battery pack as the Renault Kangoo E-Tech Electric. The driving range is around 165 miles using the WLTP cycle.

The Mercedes-Benz T-Class and EQT will make their official debut later this year. Production is at Renault’s MCA factory in Maubeuge, France, where both the T-Class and EQT are built alongside the Renault Kangoo and Kangoo E-Tech Electric.

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Porsche makes a huge promise for its most important EV

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The Porsche Taycan showed the German sports car company was taking EVs seriously, but it’ll be the arrival of the new Macan EV which really tips the scales toward electrification. Porsche isn’t quite ready to unveil the all-electric Macan quite yet, but it’s already making some big promises about the EV version of its best-seller.

It’s fair to say the Macan has been a huge deal for Porsche. Though the automaker may be best known for its 911 sports car, available as a coupe, a convertible, and a Targa, it’s crossovers and SUVs which have padded the bottom line for some time now.

In Q1 2021, for example, Macan led Porsche sales in North America, closely followed by its bigger Cayenne sibling. Indeed, Porsche sold more examples of the Macan in those three quarters than it did 911 and 718 models combined. In short, if you’re going to make an all-electric version of your most popular nameplate, you need to get it absolutely right.

Porsche’s answer to that challenge is built on the Premium Platform Electric (PPE), an electric-only architecture the automaker co-developed with VW Group stablemate Audi. Indeed, the Macan EV will be the first Porsche product to use PPE. Focused on luxury performance electric vehicles – rather than mainstream EVs as VW Group’s MEB is focused on – there’s plenty of flexibility in how PPE can be configured.

For example, Porsche and Audi have already talked about the capability of rear-wheel drive single motor setups, and all-wheel drive dual motor versions. Body styles, too, can be configured in multiple ways, with up to a 100 kW battery pack nestled into the wheelbase. In the case of the Audi A6 e-tron – a barely-disguised nod to the upcoming luxury electric car the automaker has planned for a few years out – that means a sedan, but PPE can just as easily be adapted for crossovers, SUVs, and other designs. Audi, for example, will use the platform for its Q6 all-electric SUV that’s expected to be unveiled at the end of 2022.

The all-electric Porsche Macan, meanwhile, is being planned for 2023, the automaker says. It’ll use 800-volt architecture – like the Taycan and Taycan Cross Turismo – for faster charging times along with greater performance. Indeed, Porsche isn’t holding back on its speed commitment, promising “the all-electric Macan will be the sportiest model in its segment.”

For the moment, physical prototype Macan EV models are just headed out to the road. Porsche’s development so far has been virtual, using simulations to model the design of the crossover EV more effectively. That includes the aerodynamic work which is so important for electric vehicles, to cut drag and improve range.

In parallel, however, there’ll also be another conventionally-powered version of the Macan – using gas engines still – that will be on sale alongside the Macan EV.

“Demand for electric vehicles continues to rise, but the pace of change varies considerably across the world,” Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board at Porsche, explains. “That’s why we’re going to launch another conventionally powered evolution of the current Macan in the course of 2021.”

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Subaru Solterra electric SUV confirmed as brand’s first AWD EV

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Subaru has revealed details on its new, first all-electric model, and if you were worried there wouldn’t be enough EV SUVs around to choose between, the Subaru Solterra should settle those concerns. The new name is a combination of the Latin words for “Sun” and “Earth,” the automaker says, in a nod to its “commitment to deliver traditional SUV capabilities in an environmentally responsible package.”

That is, of course, pretty much what every automaker says about their new electric vehicle. What could make the Subaru Solterra special is the e-SUBARU Global Platform it debuts.

It’s the handiwork of a collaboration between Subaru and Toyota. Subaru contributed its experience with all-wheel drive, while Toyota brought the electrification part to the recipe. We should see the Solterra launch in 2022, across the US, Canada, China, Europe, and Japan.

The automaker is tight-lipped on just what to expect from e-SUBARU, though we do have some prior knowledge. On Toyota’s side, the architecture is known as e-TNGA, and it’s designed from the outset to be especially flexible. Toyota, for example, is talking about using it for front-, rear-, and all-wheel drive configurations.

Only a handful of dimensions are fixed: the length and width of the motors, for example, and the battery pack which is mounted under the cabin. Everywhere else – including front and rear overhangs, overall vehicle width, and wheelbase – there’s flexibility to adjust size, depending on the requirements of segment, cabin space, and room for cargo.

Toyota plans to tap that flexibility for a whole series of EVs, not just the C-segment SUVs that both it and Subaru have already confirmed are on the roadmap. For Subaru, so far only the Solterra has been announced. It also seems likely that – given the brand’s reputation for AWD – it’ll skip any front- or rear-wheel drive versions.

What isn’t uncertain is that Subaru is onboard with the idea that electrification is the future. Back in January 2020, the automaker predicted that by mid-2030 it would be building electric vehicles only.

Still to be confirmed about this first example of Subaru’s EV strategy are details like power and range, not to mention pricing. In the US, Subaru is still at the start of its federal tax credits for EVs, relatively speaking, given currently it only offers PHEVs not full-electric models in its range. That could help take some of the sting out of any price premium that the new electric platform might demand. We’ll know more as the Solterra gets closer to launch.

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