FCC Announces Vote on Proposal to No Longer Make 5.9GHz Spectrum Exclusive to Auto Safety

Date: December 3, 2019

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announced that the agency will vote on December 12 on a proposal to split the 5.9 GHz spectrum between automotive safety use and Wi-Fi use. MEMA opposes this proposal because it could compromise motor vehicle safety.

“A lot of people are wondering whether this valuable spectrum—a public resource—is really being put to its best use,” Pai said in remarks later published on the FCC’s website. “In my view, it clearly is not. After 20 years of seeing these prime airwaves go largely unused, the time has come for the FCC to take a fresh look at the 5.9 GHz band. And I’m pleased to announce that today, I shared with my FCC colleagues a proposal to end the uncertainty around the 5.9 GHz band and set a path for the deployment of new services.” The FCC has published a copy of the draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that the Commission will consider.

In response to the news, MEMA released its own statement expressing concern over the proposal. The Vehicle Safety Spectrum has long been reserved for intelligent transportation systems communications, including vehicle-to-everything (V2X) and other related communications. The spectrum is critical to the development of vehicle safety technologies, including Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and automation. Sharing or dividing the spectrum raises concerns as it will require the development of new testing protocols to confirm that allowing unlicensed devices does not compromise the safety as intended when the Vehicle Safety Spectrum was first envisioned.

The House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology will be holding an FCC Oversight hearing on Dec. 5. It is expected that many members of the Subcommittee will raise this proposal with the Commissioners during the hearing. MEMA will continue advocating in support of keeping the spectrum available for vehicle safety and keep members updated with those efforts. For more information about the proposal, how it could affect the industry, and how to get involved in MEMA’s advocacy efforts, please contact Leigh Merino or Catherine Boland.

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