NCTA: FCC Should Drive Toward Freeing up V2V Spectrum

NCTA-The Internet & Television Association, is advising the FCC to stick to its planned route and free up some Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2) spectrum for Wi-Fi rather than detour at the behest of intelligent transportation system commenters who want to take it down the road of "a failed technology-specific approach to spectrum policy." 

That came in comments to the FCC Wednesday (Sept. 25). 

Related: Pai Signals New Proceeding on 5.9 GHz

Of the V2V commenters, NCTA says: "This is nothing more than a renewed attempt to delay FCC action and preserve an unwarranted and underutilized government subsidy. Their arguments are unpersuasive." 

Among those making the arguments is the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), which told the FCC last week that it should "continue our nation’s commitment to improving transportation safety by reserving the 5.9 GHz wireless spectrum for this critical purpose." 

Currently, the 5.9-GHz band is reserved for V2V communications, but app-based communications appear to be superseding that technology, which has essentially lain fallow for two decades. But AASHTO has said the debate about what technology V2V will use--DSRC or something else--should not be an excuse to open the spectrum to non-transportation applications. 

The FCC is under pressure to free up as much spectrum for advanced communications as possible, so it has been looking hard at the band. But AASHTO has said, not in our transportation backyard. 

WiFi Forward, a group that includes cable operators, has said continuing the policy of dedicated V2V spectrum is the wrong road, and would “merely perpetuate the waste of this extremely valuable resource.” 

Pai has said that among the choices for the spectrum, sticking with the (V2V reserved) status quo does not sound like a good option. He said while there might still be a case for the Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) communications the auto companies initially planned to use that spectrum for, DSRC has been stuck in neutral while Wi-Fi has hit the gas. But he did not rule out DSRC entirely. 

The FCC has completed initial testing that showed that WiFi devices could peacefully coexist with DSRC if that technology does eventually come into wide use for vehicle-to-vehicle communications. 

NCTA says no more testing is needed and it is time to start freeing up the spectrum. 

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.