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Senators Ask Telecom Agency to Approve Connected Vehicle Spectrum Use



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On Monday, two U.S. senators encouraged the Federal Communications Commission to act fast and give select automakers, academic institutions, and others access to some spectrum so they can implement connected vehicle technology that aims to avoid accidents.

The 5.9 GHz spectrum block was set aside in 1999 for automakers to create technology that would let cars communicate with one another to prevent collisions, but it has so far largely remained unused.

The FCC was urged by Senators Gary Peters and Cynthia Lummis to grant waiver petitions so that cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technology could be implemented in the 5.9 GHz spectrum band.

“C-V2X technology is poised to save lives, (and) will pave the way for the future of automobile and transportation infrastructure,” they wrote.

In November 2020, the FCC declared its intention to provide waivers. The senators said that although it has 18 waiver petitions involving 31 organizations, none have yet been approved.

The senators underlined that 2021 was the bloodiest year on American highways since 2005, with 42,915 persons losing their lives in traffic accidents.

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“Swift action on these waivers is essential given C-V2X technology’s potential to reverse rising roadway fatalities,” the senators wrote.

The FCC did not immediately comment.

Volkswagen, AG’s Audi, Ford Motor, and Jaguar Land Rover, the Virginia and Utah Departments of Transportation, Harman International, Panasonic Corp, the New York City Department of Transportation, and the University of Michigan are among the organizations requesting waivers.

The technology will assist in addressing “a rising traffic safety concern in the U.S.,” according to the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade group that includes almost all significant automakers.

In 2020, the FCC decided to give C-V2X access to 30 megahertz of the 75 MHz allocated for Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC), while leaving the remaining 45 MHz for Wi-Fi.

While major cable, telecom, and multimedia businesses argue that the spectrum is necessary to sustain expanding Wi-Fi use, automakers opposed the split for safety reasons.

According to government research, the technology might stop at least 600,000 crashes yearly if it were widely used in U.S. vehicles.

Jennifer Homendy, the chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, requested the FCC to issue waivers in August.

“Connected vehicle technology would significantly reduce roadway fatalities, but it must be deployed as soon as possible,” Homendy said.

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