CAGW: V2V Shouldn't Commandeer Public Safety Spectrum for 'Infotainment'

Citizens Against Government Waste is telling the FCC it would be a waste not to use 45 MHz of the 5.9 GHz band to expand WiFi, citing the pandemic as one reason. 

Vehicle-to-vehicle communications currently claim the entire band, though that technology has been slow to roll and WiFi backers including cable operators and computer companies say V2V can do fine with only 30 MHz of the 75 MHz total. 

Related: Public Interest Groups Call for 5,9 GHz 

In its reply comments to the FCC, which has proposed freeing up the lower 45 MHz for WiFi/5G, CAGW said that the FCC's plan more closely aligns the U.S. with other countries. Then there is the virus-driven need for remote communications. 

"During the coronavirus pandemic, WiFi has enabled tens of millions of Americans to work and learn remotely and operate many devices at the same time on their home networks," CAGW said. "Designating the lower 45 MHz of the 5.9 GHz band for unlicensed use can help address an immediate need for capacity." 

Related: NCTA Says It's Time 5.9 GHz Drove WiFi Expansion

The group also said that if V2V got to keep all 75 MHz they would likely try to use some of that capacity for nonsafety systems including entertainment systems. "Good spectrum policy requires that the FCC only give away spectrum for free, without an auction or sharing requirements, if it will be used for a public purpose such as public safety," it said. 

Related: NCTA to FCC: Set 5.9 GHz Free

Besides, it said, using the spectrum for "infotainment" could lead to distracted driving and accidents, so it would be the opposite of public safety use.  

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.