US Transportation Secretary promises to address concerns around 5.9GHz sharing


Pete Buttigieg, the new US Transportation Secretary, today (March 25, 2021) used his appearance at the full hearing of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure at the US Capitol in Washington DC, to express his concern at the plans for 5.9GHz spectrum sharing as they stand.

Committee chair Peter DeFazio asked Buttigieg if he would re-engage with the FCC over its ruling on 5.9GHz sharing, in light of the fact that it was widely opposed by state DOTs and other stakeholders across the nation due to the impact it is feared it will have on V2X safety communications.

The secretary stopped short of saying he would attempt to reverse the FCC decision, but said, via a live video link, “The 5.9 spectrum – often known as the safety band – is a very important priority for transportation communications and public safety.

“I know that the prior administration, as well the department, communicated its concerns – and I know there’s been bipartisan concern in the committee as well, and we share that concern. So, we’re going to be engaging with counterparts across the administration on a way forward to try to establish the best way to handle and share the spectrum that is consistent with not just safety communications as we know them, but where they’re headed.”

Buttigieg’s statement came a day after he received a letter from four groups – the International Center for Law & Economics, New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge and the R Street Institute – supporting the FCC’s decision to open the 5.9 GHz band to both automotive and broadband technologies. And a week after he received a similar letter from ITS America and AASHTO putting the opposing arguments of why the 5.9GHz band should be preserved to transportation safety.

Clearly the secretary faces a difficult balancing act in attempting to satisfy the demands of all stakeholders in the wi-fi community.


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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).