German carmakers and technology firms form 5G telecoms association

A sign showing the name of German truck maker Daimler is pictured at the IAA truck show in Hanover, September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German car makers Audi, BMW BMWG.DE and Daimler DAIGn.DE on Tuesday launched an alliance with mobile telecoms network equipment firms Ericsson ERICb.ST, Huawei [HWT.UL], Intel INTC.O, Nokia NOKIA.HE and Qualcomm QCOM.O to accelerate development of the infrastructure needed for self-driving cars.

The pact is another example of Germany's premium carmakers collaborating to build technology expertise necessary to take on new rivals like Uber [UBER.UL] and Google GOOGL.O which are also working on autonomous driving technology.

The new alliance, branded the 5G Automotive Association, will “develop, test and promote communications solutions, support standardization and accelerate commercial availability and global market penetration,” the founders said in a statement.

One of the aims of 5G, the technology standards for the next generation of much faster and more reliable mobile telecoms networks, is to enable a wide variety of devices to connect up and operate via the Internet - the “Internet of Things.”

Network equipment providers such as Ericsson and Nokia have said the 5G technology currently in development could be available for use as early as next year but mass-market upgrades to mobile networks are not expected until some time around 2020.

A spokesman for the newly formed partnership said there were talks with several network operators to join the association, declining to give any names.

Last year BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen's VOWG_p.DE Audi, joined forces to buy digital map maker HERE for 2.8 billion euros ($3.15 billion) from Nokia and this week will introduce a service that allows drivers to see for themselves what road conditions are like miles ahead using live data contributed by other vehicles.

Reporting by Harro ten Wolde and Ilona Wissenbach; Editing by Greg Mahlich