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Automakers criticize bill to open 5.9GHz waveband

Two of the largest trade associations representing automakers have criticized a bill proposed by two US senators that would open up part of the wireless spectrum to internet access and purposes other than vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) or vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication systems, which are currently being used for connected cars research and will be the future basis for self-driving or autonomous cars and other accident-avoidance technologies. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) have introduced legislation to open the 5.9GHz band to new uses, titled ‘the WiFi Innovation Act.’ The Association of Global Automakers, which represents Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and other overseas manufacturers, said the bill is putting at risk the opportunity to save thousands of lives. The Association’s president and CEO, John Bozzella, said, “The lifesaving benefits of (vehicle-to-vehicle) communications are within reach. Given what’s at stake, an ill-informed decision on this spectrum is a gamble.”

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the trade group representing Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, and others, said it is reviewing the legislation and will work with the senators to resolve concerns. “While we do not object to sharing the spectrum space, we’ve long advocated that legislators and regulators must take a ‘do no harm’ approach and ensure that there is no harmful interference to the dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) that allow vehicles to communicate with each other and infrastructure,” said Alliance spokesman, Wade Newton. The Alliance is currently reviewing the legislation and is committed to working with Rubio and Booker to resolve any outstanding concerns.

In February, the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) said it plans to propose requiring all new cars and trucks to eventually communicate with one another, which could help reduce up to 80% of crash deaths. In 1999, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allocated use of the 5.9GHz spectrum to intelligent transportation systems (ITS), but last year it voted to move toward opening part of the waveband to wireless devices, although the proposal is not expected to become final until later this year. “To meet the demands of our time, action must be taken to ensure spectrum is utilized effectively and efficiently,” said Senator Rubio. “This bill requires the FCC to conduct testing that would provide more spectrum to the public and ultimately put the resource to better use, while recognizing the future needs and important work being done in intelligent transportation.”

June 24, 2014

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