Senators ask FCC to grant 5.9 GHz spectrum for C-V2X technology

Two U.S. senators have urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to move quickly to grant some automakers, universities and others the ability to use some spectrum to deploy connected vehicle technology aimed at preventing crashes.
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FCC had reserved the 5.9 GHz spectrum block in 1999 for automakers to develop technology to allow vehicles to talk to each other to avoid crashes but has so far gone largely unused.

Senators Gary Peters and Cynthia Lummis called on the FCC to approve waiver requests to enable deployment of Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology in the 5.9 GHz spectrum band, Reuters news report said.

The FCC said in November 2020 it intended to offer waivers. It has received 18 waiver requests covering 31 entities but none have yet been granted, the senators added.

The senators noted 42,915 people died in traffic crashes in 2021, the deadliest year on American highways since 2005.

Entities seeking waivers include Volkswagen’s Audi, Ford Motor and Jaguar Land Rover, Panasonic, New York City Department of Transportation, Utah Transportation Department and Virginia Transportation Department, Harman International, and University of Michigan.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade group representing nearly all major automakers, said the technology will help address a growing traffic safety crisis in the U.S.

The FCC voted in 2020 to shift 30 megahertz of the 75 MHz reserved for Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) to C-V2X, while moving the other 45 MHz to Wi-Fi use.

Automakers opposed the split on safety grounds, while major cable, telecom and content companies say the spectrum is essential to support growing Wi-Fi use.

Government studies say the technology, if widely adopted among U.S. vehicles, could prevent at least 600,000 crashes annually.

In August, National Transportation Safety Board chair Jennifer Homendy urged the FCC to grant waivers.