Qualcomm says C-V2X ‘ready to go,’ urges swift access to 5.9 GHz

At its open meeting next week, the FCC will vote on a revamped 5.9 GHz band, including reassigning 30-megahertz of spectrum for Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology, but some things aren’t moving fast enough for Qualcomm.

Qualcomm, a long-time proponent of C-V2X, was pleased with the draft ruling (in what has been a fairly controversial proceeding) but wants the FCC to allow operations in the band immediately.

Ex parte notice filings show that Qualcomm’s Dean Brenner, senior vice president, Spectrum Strategy and Technology Policy, spoke with FCC staff over the last two weeks, most recently on November 9 (PDF), saying the company was very concerned  over the order’s proposal of an “indefinite, uncertain, and potentially lengthy ‘transition period’ during which C-V2X” still won’t be allowed to use the spectrum.

That transition period relates to licensees using older Dedicated Short-range Communications (DSRC) technology, which the FCC deemed largely underutilized and is voting to instead allocate spectrum to the newer and more advanced C-V2X radio technology standard.

RELATED: FCC moves to authorize C-V2X in 5.9 GHz band

But Qualcomm says that C-V2X is ready to go now. In conversations with the FCC, it pointed to Ford and other automakers that want to sell cars equipped with advanced C-V2X technologies, and said state and local transportation agencies prepared to deploy C-V2X roadside units (RSUs).

“C-V2X needs to access the 5.9 GHz spectrum now so this life-saving technology can be deployed,” according to Qualcomm.

At the very least, Qualcomm believes the FCC’s order should greenlight a waiver request filed by the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) in 2018 to allow deployments using the technology in the upper 20 MHz for "Basic C-V2X" applications. The waiver would be conditioned on C-V2X operators coordinating RSU deployments with any DSRC RSU deployments operating in that portion of the band.

Any vehicles equipped with C-V2X and operating under the waiver should be allowed to do so across the U.S. inference free, Qualcomm said.  

RELATED: Qualcomm supplies C-V2X tech for deployment in Hawaii

“So these vehicles can take full advantage of the safety features enabled by Cellular vehicle-to-vehicle communications in all areas of the country,” and because there aren’t DSRC-equipped commercial vehicles using the upper 20 MHz for V2X, the filing states.

In a recent blog post, Brenner wrote that immediate access to the 30 MHz of spectrum for C-V2X is necessary so that potential safety measures aren’t put at risk.

One aspect of C-V2X he called out is direct communication mode, also known as sidelink, which was also included in 3GPP’s Release 16 specification.

With sidelink, vehicles and RSUs can communicate directly without depending on the cellular network.

“Hence, basic safety messages can be transmitted and received without worry over cellular coverage and with very low latency that is key to roadway safety alerts,” wrote   Brenner.

The blog also pointed to extensive standards work and C-V2X tests undertaken by the automotive industry, as well as the growth of 5GAA from eight members to more than 140 in less than five years.

Vehicle to Infrastructure benefits

As it urges the FCC to make spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band available immediately, Qualcomm also thinks the greatest near-term opportunity for C-V2X will come from Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) applications.

C-V2X covers vehicle-to-pedestrian and vehicle-to-vehicle applications as well, as Jason Ellis, director of Business Development, Qualcomm Technologies, outlined in a November 9 blog, with V2V initially focused on avoiding collisions through uses like blind spot warnings, emergency vehicle alerts and others  to another, or even vehicle to pedestrian.

However, it will probably be several years for that to come to full fruition, he noted, because the use cases need enough vehicles on the road to be equipped with C-V2X technology.

RELATED: Verizon, AWS use mmWave spectrum to test autonomous driving apps

V2I on the other hand, can happen “as soon as a single C-V2X-equipped vehicle can interact with roadside infrastructure,” wrote Ellis.

Those applications include things like Traffic Signal Preemption, where C-V2X can help enable advanced planning for traffic light timing if an emergency vehicle is approaching a traffic signal-controlled intersection. This makes the traffic light change less abrupt for other cars on the road and lets the ambulance or other emergency vehicle pass through more quickly.

“Combining C-V2X direct communication emanating from emergency vehicles with the larger cellular network (vehicle-to-network) further improves traffic management to see that intersections are cleared for swift passage in both anticipation of the vehicle’s approach and arrival,” wrote Ellis.

Ellis cited other use cases where vehicles can interact with installed infrastructure including Transit Priority, as well as a variety of warnings such as work or school zones, speed limits, stop sign violations, and spot weather information.