In a letter sent to the Federal Communications Commission earlier this week, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and other transportation groups urged protection for the 5.9 GHz band of spectrum so that it may be used for connected vehicle technology.
"We respectfully ask the Commission to allow for due diligence on this critical issue by ensuring that any timelines contained in a proposed rulemaking relating to the 75 MHz of spectrum in the 5850-5925 MHz (5.9 GHz) band are consistent with the National Telecommunications & Information Administration schedule for completing its quantitative evaluation and issuing final recommendations, and do not precede a decision by the U.S. Department of Transportation regarding implementation of a connected vehicle network which has the potential to greatly reduce the 6 million crashes and more than 30,000 deaths which occur on U.S. roadways annually," the letter states.
Federal Communications Commission Chair Julius Genachowski announced last month that the commission is seeking to "unleash" the 5.9 GHz band in order to alleviate Wi-Fi congestion at major hubs (such as airports and convention centers). However, doing so may interfere with the connected vehicle program, which is designed to use that frequency.
Currently, USDOT is testing connected vehicle technology, which is a multimodal initiative that will allow for wireless communications between vehicles, transportation infrastructure, and passenger communication devices. While still in early phases, proponents believe the technology will greatly increase safety (through vehicle crash prevention applications), improve mobility (by allowing drivers to make choices that reduce delays), and improve the environment (through less wasted fuel). The connected vehicle program relies on the 5.9GHz band spectrum to transmit the messages that provide key safety information on vehicle position, speed, weather, road conditions, and traffic signal timing (see related story).
"We support efforts to identify spectrum that may be utilized to expand Wi-Fi applications," the letter states. "But with over 30,000 deaths on our nation's roads every year, we also believe it is critical that efforts to open up additional spectrum do not come at the expense of revolutionary life-saving technologies."
AASHTO was joined by numerous other transportation groups in signing the letter, including the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, AAA, the American Public Transportation Association, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, American Traffic Safety Services Association, Transportation for America, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Association of Global Automakers, and state transportation department CEOs and leaders from California, Washington State, Michigan, Texas, and Florida.