FCC challenged over decision to shift auto spectrum to wireless devices

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WASHINGTON — Two prominent transportation advocacy groups on Wednesday challenged the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) November decision to shift much of a key spectrum block set aside for auto safety to accommodate the burgeoning number of wireless devices.

The Intelligent Transportation Society of America and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials brought a legal challenge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia seeking to reverse the FCC’s reallocation of 60% of the 5.9 GHz band spectrum block.

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Last year, the U.S. Transportation Department said the FCC plan was “a particularly dangerous regulatory approach when public safety is at stake.”

The spectrum block was reserved 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.

The FCC, which did not immediately comment, voted to shift 30 megahertz of the 75 megahertz reserved for Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) to a different automotive communications technology called Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything, or C-V2X, while moving the other 45 megahertz to Wi-Fi use.

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

DSRC was previously offered on just one General Motors Co vehicle. Government studies have suggested the technology, if widely adopted among U.S. vehicles, could prevent at least 600,000 crashes annually.

Talking cars and trucks would use dedicated short-range communications to transmit data up to 300 meters, such as location, direction and speed, to nearby vehicles. That data would be updated and broadcast up to 10 times per second to nearby vehicles, which can identify risks and provide warnings to drivers to avoid imminent crashes.

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In December 2016 the Obama administration proposed requiring all new cars and trucks to eventually include DSRC, but the Trump administration never finalized the rules.

 

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