Just days after FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called for a fresh look at the 5.9 GHz band, the Association of Global Automakers urged the commission to ensure the entire 5.9 GHz band gets retained for auto-safety services. It's also proposing V2X buildout requirements.
The automakers’ latest proposals are notable given the chairman called for examining several possible options for the 5.9 GHz band, including sharing between unlicensed devices and automotive communications technologies in the lower 45 MHz of the band while reserving the upper 30 MHz exclusively for vehicle-to-vehicle technologies. Another option is allocating the entire 75 MHz band exclusively for unlicensed use.
The FCC on Thursday released the tentative agenda for the June 6 open commission meeting, and the 5.9 GHz band was not on it. That’s because on Wednesday, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao personally asked Chairman Pai for additional time before the commission takes up the 5.9 GHz proceeding, according to an FCC spokesperson. It’s not clear when the 5.9 GHz band will be on a future meeting agenda.
The 5.9 GHz band has been in regulatory limbo for some time. Back in 1999, the FCC designated 75 megahertz of spectrum in the band for Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC), but as Chairman Pai described it in his speech at the Wi-Fi World Congress on May 14, DSRC has been “stuck in neutral” while Wi-Fi “hit the gas” in 1999 and never looked back.
In a May 17 ex parte filing (PDF), the Association of Global Automakers acknowledged that while DSRC is “the only V2X technology ready to deploy today,” a potential new innovation has arisen in the form of Cellular V2X (C-V2X), which is a technology that Qualcomm and others have been pushing.
“Global Automakers recognizes that the current regulatory framework for the 5.9 GHz band is unworkable for the V2X future,” the organization told the commission. “By limiting use of the 5.9 GHz band to DSRC-based services, the Commission’s existing service rules for the band do not allow for deployment of other existing and future technologies that may be developed to provide V2X services.”
However, “simply opening the band to new technologies without restrictions would undermine the very functionality of V2X services. For instance, V2X technology is built around the ability to transmit and receive the Basic Safety Message (BSM), which provides key information about moving vehicles including size, position, speed, and heading. Technologies that are unable to share this message with other connected vehicles deploying different technologies will not be able to achieve the primary safety benefits of V2X services,” the automakers explained.
Among the principles the Global Automakers urges the commission to consider:
- Ensuring the entire 5.9 GHz band be retained for auto-safety services
- Making sure all V2X-equipped vehicles and infrastructure can provide for communication of the Basic Safety Message
Global Automakers also proposes the following performance requirements:
- Interim buildout requirement: Deployment of 2 million V2X radios within five years. Such radios could be deployed in vehicles—during manufacturing or after market—or on roadway infrastructure. Failure to meet the interim deadline would accelerate the final buildout requirement by two years.
- Final buildout requirement: Within 10 years, deployment of V2X radios in an amount equivalent to 75% of new light vehicles sold in the U.S. in the calendar year of the final buildout deadline. If this final buildout deadline is not satisfied, the commission would revisit alternative uses of the 5.9 GHz band.
Last month, Toyota, which is a member of the Global Automakers and a strong supporter of DSRC, told the FCC that it was pausing its deployment of DSRC, which the company announced in April 2018 it would deploy in vehicles sold in the U.S. starting in 2021.
The company said the regulatory environment around the 5.9 GHz band had become even more uncertain and unstable since its announcement and it could not continue to pursue its plans given the chance the DSRC operations could be subject to interference from unlicensed operations or other technologies should they be permitted in the band.