The Internet & Television Association has asked the Federal Communications Commission to open the 5.9 gigahertz spectrum airwaves, which had been set aside for the connected vehicle infrastructure initiative.
 - Graphic courtesy of NCTA.

The Internet & Television Association has asked the Federal Communications Commission to open the 5.9 gigahertz spectrum airwaves, which had been set aside for the connected vehicle infrastructure initiative.

Graphic courtesy of NCTA.

The Internet & Television Association has asked the Federal Communications Commission to open airwaves — known as the 5.9 gigahertz spectrum — that are currently allocated for exclusive use by automakers for vehicle-to-vehicle communications, the association announced.

The association cited a shortage of bandwidth as the rationale for the request to lift the exclusive allocation in a statement that drew rebuke from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Preserving the 5.9 GHz band for transportation communications is essential to public safety today and in the future, according to NHTSA. The association said the spectrum could be repurposed to help deliver better Wi-Fi.

The agency's statement goes on to detail the roll-out of vehicle-to-vehicle communications and the utilization of the band, noting that the automotive industry and municipalities are already deploying vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology and using all seven channels of the 5.9 GHz band.

There are over 70 active deployments of V2X communications with thousands of vehicles on the road. The technology has the potential to improve infrastructure, safety and efficiency, according to NHTSA.

It was some 20 years ago when automakers were granted the exclusive rights to use a portion of U.S. airwaves, so cars could communicate wirelessly and thereby ensure safer roadways, according to a Bloomberg report.

The association, which includes cable provider Comcast, believes the experiment has failed, citing two years of stagnation by automakers.

Under the Obama administration, NHTSA proposed a mandate for vehicle-to-vehicle radios on all new automobiles by 2023, noting research that doing so could prevent 80% of all non-impaired crashes, reports Bloomberg.

While the mandate has stalled under Trump, NHTSA continues to work closely with the FCC to utilize the 5.9 GHz band for public safety applications and vehicle safety communications.

In its statement, NHTSA rejects the association's request to allocate all or a portion of the spectrum for other uses, noting "the department's recent AV 3.0 guidance, the three-phase research plan currently underway was developed collaboratively with the FCC and the U.S. Department of Commerce to explore spectrum-sharing technology that maintains priority use for vehicle communications. The three phases of the test plan are interdependent and ongoing, and the testing will show whether unlicensed devices can safely operate in the 5.9 GHz band."

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