Chair DeFazio and Ranking Member Graves Request GAO Study on Safety Implications of Opening Up 5.9 GHz Spectrum Band
Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Sam Graves (R-MO) sent a letter to U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller General Gene Dodaro requesting the agency conduct a study into the safety implications of sharing more than half of the 5.9 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum band. Currently, the entire 5.9 GHz band is reserved exclusively for transportation safety purposes.
In December 2019—against guidance from Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao—the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed to reallocate more than half of the 5.9 GHz radio frequency band (or Safety Band) to unlicensed operations, such as Wi-Fi. Advanced transportation technologies have the potential to revolutionize our transportation system, but the safety and effectiveness of those technologies will depend on the amount of spectrum available on the Safety Band.
“Advanced technologies hold tremendous potential to improve transportation safety, reduce congestion, and decrease pollution, among other prospective uses. Some of these technologies rely on wireless communication between vehicles, between vehicles and infrastructure (such as traffic signals), or vehicles and other users (such as pedestrians),” DeFazio and Graves wrote in their letter. “Transportation stakeholders have concerns that an insufficient amount of available spectrum, such as the amount proposed in the FCC’s proceeding, may significantly affect the efficacy of current and future applications of vehicle safety technologies.”
The full copy of the letter can be found here.