Toyota Motor Corporation is telling the FCC that assertions about dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) being a “failed experiment” and statements about the band not being used today are simply not true.
“Significant and irrefutable progress has been made with respect to DSRC development and deployment since the Commission first initiated the 5 GHz proceeding in February of 2013,” the automaker told the FCC (PDF).
The statements, made in response to a call for comments by the FCC, contrast with those of NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, which call DSRC “a failed technology” (PDF) stuck in the pilot-project stage even after 20 years of government subsidy. Others, like Qualcomm and Ford, have shared the results of tests they conducted to compare radio performance of cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) and DSRC in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and San Diego, where they found C-V2X to be superior to DSRC.
The FCC has been involved in efforts to determine whether unlicensed devices could share the 5850-5925 MHz frequency band with DSRC systems. A three-phase test plan was devised, with the FCC reporting in October on the first phase, at which time it put out a public notice (PDF) asking for input on how it proceeds with the 5.9 GHz band. In so doing, the FCC acknowledged that quite a few things have changed since the three-phase test plan was announced in 2016—including developments in C-V2X—and it asked about how some of these factors should affect its evaluation of the test results.
Toyota ticked off several accomplishments in DSRC: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s large-scale pilot deployment with approximately 3,000 DSRC-equipped vehicles was completed in 2013. Deployment-ready standards for DSRC were finalized by the stakeholder community in 2015. In 2017, General Motors released the first DSRC-enabled production vehicles into the U.S. market, and earlier this year, Toyota announced its plans to deploy DSRC vehicles in the U.S.
Yet calls are increasing for the government to rethink the 5.9 GHz band given the need for more unlicensed spectrum for Wi-Fi and the perceived lack of real progress in DSRC. NCTA, for example, is urging the commission to move past the idea of a co-channel “sharing regime” and reassess phases II and III of the 2016 test plan.
NCTA argues that DSRC is unlikely ever to be deployed widely in the 5.9 GHz band. DSRC will be reliable and effective (if ever) only after “every car and truck is equipped with DSRC” and “the country builds a nationwide network of roadside units at taxpayer expense.” That will likely never occur, the association argues, noting proposals to mandate DSRC have been removed from active consideration. Even if DSRC begins to deploy, it will take decades for any vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology to reach enough vehicles to be reliable.
In contrast, Toyota urged the commission not to entertain sharing solutions that will disrupt the deployment or further development of DSRC technology, strand DSRC in the market or otherwise undercut the significant public and private sector investment that has been made thus far.
GM is also among those urging the government to complete all three phases of the tests before making any decisions about the future of the 5.9 GHz band. GM deployed DSRC-based V2V on its 2017 Cadillac CTS in 2017 and in June of 2018 announced it will build V2V on-board units into a high-volume Cadillac crossover vehicle beginning in 2013, expanding to all Cadillac models thereafter.
In its Nov. 28 filing with the FCC (PDF), GM acknowledged that C-V2X has begun to emerge, but said at this time, “DSRC-based V2V remains the only proven technological solution” and is the appropriate technology to use to test whether spectrum sharing with unlicensed Wi-Fi can work.
Several automobile organizations weighed in as well, telling the commission to preserve all seven channels of the 5.9 GHz spectrum for transportation safety, citing the investment that’s already gone into DSRC and plans for deployment in cars by the likes of Toyota and GM.
This is far from the last word on where the 5.9 GHz band is headed. The FCC in its public notice set an initial deadline of Nov. 28 for comments and a deadline of Dec. 13 for reply comments.