Last-ditch attempt fails to save all 5.9GHz spectrum for V2X in US


Last week (August 12) the United States Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia rejected an appeal by ITS America and AASTHO to overturn the FCC’s reallocation of a large portion of the 5.9GHz away from safety critical V2X functions.

The failure of this last-ditch attempt to preserve spectrum for transportation safety leaves the industry in the USA concerned that vehicle connectivity, whether via DSRC wi-fi or C-V2X, may now be marred by interference from non-critical spectrum users.

In a joint statement ITS America and AASHTO (the America Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) called the failure of the appeal against the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) November 2020 decision “a blow to transportation safety for all Americans.”

FCC HQ, Washington DC

The statement continues: “At a time when roadway deaths are at an all-time high, our efforts to preserve the entire 75 MHz spectrum for connected vehicle safety solutions demonstrate the industry’s commitment to saving lives. Transportation safety stakeholders are overwhelmingly unified in opposition to the FCC’s ruling. We are disappointed and frustrated that the FCC and the Court disregarded our collective expertise and feedback, ignoring the importance of transportation safety and ignoring the importance of using these technologies to stop the public health emergency on our nation’s roadways. The FCC instead continued to prioritize economic interests over public safety.

“Despite this disappointing ruling, we will continue our efforts to ensure the remaining 30 MHz is free from dangerous interference and advances transportation safety. In addition, ITS America’s Future of V2X Working Group has been working actively for months to determine strategies to effectively deploy lifesaving Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) technologies under a new paradigm.

“AASHTO has also been working with its members to further the readiness, deployment, and integration of V2X technologies on public roadways. Connected vehicle technology and automated transportation solutions will continue to be critical tools to assist the transportation industry in achieving our goal to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all.

“ITS America, AASHTO, and our members continue to envision and explore the future of connectivity and the needs of our transportation system as technology advances. Accordingly, we call on the FCC to allocate an additional spectrum for advanced V2X communications, which the FCC told the Court it would consider during oral arguments earlier this year.

“As fatalities on U.S. roadways continue to increase, we must use all available tools – including connected vehicles, automation, and other mobility technologies – to reverse this devastating trend.”

Despite the concerns from transportation experts, a pressure group called WifiForward set up to expand wifi spectrum for commercial uses, issued a counter statement which reads: “We are pleased that the DC Circuit Court has affirmed – in a unanimous opinion –  the FCC’s bipartisan decision to permit wifi and other unlicensed operations in the 5.9 GHz, alongside spectrum for new automotive safety applicants. The Commission conducted a years-long, deliberative process and judiciously opened previously-unused spectrum for consumers to benefit from improved wireless broadband and other applications using unlicensed technologies. Today’s decision means we will see both faster, better broadband and safer vehicles — a win-win.”

Share this story:

About Author


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).