FCC may tap connected-vehicle spectrum for next-gen Wi-Fi

Spectrum set aside for connected-vehicle communications and now under the control of the Department of Transportation may be opened up to unlicensed use to help accelerate deployment of next-generation Wi-Fi, which could bolster emerging 5G wireless communications.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai recently said the commission wants to open up 1,200 megahertz of spectrum between 5.925 GHz and 7.125 GHz. However, 75 MHz of band in 5.9 GHz has become a contentious interagency issue. The FCC had set the spectrum aside for Dedicated Short Range Communications years ago to help promote development of vehicle-to-vehicle safety capabilities, but the technology hasn't gained traction.

Pai said his agency planned to open a "fresh look" rulemaking process for the spectrum.

After the announcement, however, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao asked for a 30-day extension on opening up the rulemaking.

"It's totally appropriate and reasonable not to strand our policy and take a fresh look at how to use those airwaves," FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said at a June 3 New America Foundation event.

At the same event, Commissioner Michael O'Rielly said the decision to move ahead with the rulemaking is "decided by the chairman."

He added that many of DSRC vehicular safety capabilities for which the spectrum was originally reserved have been shouldedr by other technologies that leverage licensed commercial spectrum, such as lidar-based capabilities, that can detect other vehicles and road hazards.

This article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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