Lawmakers Disagree with FCC on 5.9 GHz Proposal
Friday, January 24, 2020 | Comments

Members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure told the FCC they are alarmed by its proposal to reallocate more than half of the 5.9 GHz spectrum (Safety Band) to unlicensed operations, such as Wi-Fi. The FCC's proposal undercuts the potential to prevent many of the 37,000 traffic fatalities each year by impeding the development and deployment of safety-critical technologies, a letter said.

Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced a new pilot program to deploy vehicle-to-everything (V2X) around the country to help prevent accidents involving first responders earlier this month.

Chao said DOT has significant concerns with the FCC’s proposal, which represents a major shift in the FCC's regulation of the 5.9 GHz band and jeopardizes the significant transportation safety benefits that the allocation of this band was meant to foster. The lawmakers concurred with Cho’s concerns.

In 1999, the FCC allocated the 5.9 GHz radio frequency band to dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) for use with intelligent transportation systems (ITS). The letter said DSRC enables communications both between vehicles (V2V) and with the surrounding environment (V2I). The benefits of this technology rapidly increase with high-scale deployment of vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technologies and are critical to reducing highway fatalities and saving lives. Beyond the DSRC-based deployments, private sector companies are researching and testing technology that also would use the 5.9 GHz spectrum, the letter said.

This next generation of cellular communications will allow for enhanced cellular- V2X (C-V2X) services, particularly for vehicle platooning, advanced driving, extended sensors and remote driving. “Safety advocates have compared this technology to the next seat belt or airbag in terms of saving lives and opening the door to safer self-driving cars that can effectively look around corners and through buildings,” the lawmakers said.

The seven-page bipartisan letter is here.

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