Transportation coalition asks FCC to protect vehicle Wi-Fi spectrum

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) originally allocated 5.9 GHz band for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications.

The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), along with major automakers, safety advocates and transportation officials from across the country signed a letter on Feb. 13 asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to protect the 5.9 GHz band of spectrum set aside for connected vehicle technology from efforts to use that space for Wi-Fi-based devices, the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) reported.

The Wi-Fi expansion plan, announced by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski at the Consumer Electronics Show last month, will be the topic of a Feb. 20 commission meeting in which the FCC plans to consider a notice of proposed rulemaking to substantially increase the amount of unlicensed spectrum available for unlicensed devices in the 5 GHz band.

The 5.9 GHz band — one of two bands under consideration — was originally allocated by the FCC for development of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications technology, which the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) estimates could potentially address 80 percent of all unimpaired crash scenarios, saving thousands of lives each year.

According to the ITS America-led coalition, “We support efforts to identify spectrum that may be utilized to expand Wi-Fi applications. But with over 30,000 deaths on our nation’s roads every year, we also believe it is critical that efforts to open up additional spectrum do not come at the expense of revolutionary life-saving technologies.”

In the letter to FCC Chairman Genachowski, the ITS requested that the commission allow for due diligence by ensuring that any timelines contained in a proposed rulemaking relating to the 5.9 GHz band are consistent with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) schedule for completing its quantitative evaluation and issuing final recommendations, and do not precede a decision by the U.S. DOT regarding implementation of a connected vehicle network.

Joining ITS America in the letter was AAA, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Association of Global Automakers, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, American Highway Users Alliance, American Public Transportation Association, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, American Traffic Safety Services Association, Transportation for America, and numerous other public and private sector leaders.