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September 15, 2020 3:15 PM, EDT

Stakeholders Urge White House to Assist in 5.9 GHz Preservation

MeadowsWhite House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows (Stefani Reynolds/SIPA/Bloomberg News)

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Freight and passenger transportation groups are seeking the White House’s support to halt the Federal Communications Commission’s proposal that would shift certain auto safety airwaves for broadband uses.

Proponents of the 5.9 gigahertz transportation safety band argue maintaining it would facilitate technological innovation and lead to myriad safety benefits. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the American Highway Users Alliance, the American Public Transportation Association, American Trucking Associations and other stakeholders urged White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Sept. 8 to collaborate with the Department of Transportation on the 5.9 GHz band matter.

For months, the groups have criticized FCC’s proposal of designating the lower 45 megahertz of the band for unlicensed uses, while keeping the remaining 30 MHz for transportation and vehicle safety-related services.

“Reducing the amount of spectrum available to vehicle-to-everything technologies undermines our shared interest in reducing the number of traffic fatalities and injuries that occur each year on U.S. roadways, improving motor vehicle safety, and improving the operational performance of roadways by reducing congestion across the transportation system,” the groups, which also include Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the American Society of Civil Engineers, wrote. “Preserving the spectrum for [vehicle-to-everything] would provide greater benefit for the American people than reallocating the spectrum for unlicensed devices.”

Spectrum Letter by Transport Topics on Scribd

In April, the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, an advocacy firm, pressed FCC to listen to transportation stakeholders’ concerns.

“For the commission to adopt a decision that has been strongly and thoroughly opposed by safety experts throughout the United States as causing irreparable and lasting damage to traffic safety is irresponsible,” said Shailen Bhatt, the group’s CEO. “The FCC’s proposal would be destructive and immediately harm public safety.”

According to background on the matter published in the Federal Register, FCC indicated: “These bands provide high data rate local area network connections for business and home users to interconnect with and access the internet, and are often used for data offloading by commercial wireless networks to relieve congestion when consumer demand is high.”

The agency added, “The commission believes that unlicensed use of the 5.850-5.895 GHz portion of the 5.9 GHz band is well-suited for such use and could help satisfy the burgeoning demand for high-speed wireless access.”

Shailen Bhatt

Bhatt

In 1999, the agency dedicated frequencies for transportation safety purposes known as Dedicated Short Range Communication Services (DSRC).

Microsoft and Comcast, among other firms, argue the split in the band would reflect the public’s demands for access to Wi-Fi.

On Capitol Hill, three dozen transportation policymakers expressed concern about the agency’s move. Led by Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairman and ranking member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, respectively, they told FCC earlier this year: “[Vehicle-to-everything] deployments are already supporting platforms related to warnings against red-light violations, reduced speed and work zone areas, and location-specific weather impacts.

“While the FCC has expressed concern with the slow pace of development and deployment of vehicle safety technologies in the 5.9 GHz band, the FCC’s recent actions have only exacerbated the problem and upended any progress being made.”

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