Reallocating 5.9 GHz Spectrum a Win for Taxpayers and Consumers

This week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously voted to advance a proposal that will benefit American taxpayers, consumers, and businesses. Under their Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, they plan to reallocate underused 45 megahertz of the 5.9 GHz band for unlicensed uses, while retaining 30 megahertz for vehicle communications. This entirely fair and reasonable approach will promote innovation while protecting vehicle safety well into the future.

For nearly twenty years, automakers have had exclusive use of the spectrum band in order to develop and deploy car-to-car communication. However, the market has failed to deliver a widely used product to justify the sole use of this valuable spectrum band. To that end, no car company has plans to deploy this technology in the future.

Thankfully, the FCC plans to reallocate spectrum for more efficient uses in our ever-growing digital world. Opening up the underused 5.9 GHz spectrum is a wise approach to expanding Wi-Fi connectivity, growing the “internet of things” and ensuring safety in automotive vehicles well into the future. The FCC’s action also couldn’t have come at a better time as consumer demand for wi-fi continues to increase year after year. According to Cisco, nearly 57 percent of U.S. internet traffic will travel over Wi-Fi by 2022 which will lead to congestion, and perhaps lead to slower internet speeds.

As we wrote in a coalition letter to FCC Chairman Pai earlier this month, once this proposal is adopted,  “severely underused spectrum can be put to work, help enable deployment of next-generation wireless broadband technologies with faster speeds to consumers in the near term, and still provide spectrum access for automotive safety innovations.”

We commend the FCC for its continued commitment to fostering innovation through smart, data-driven policies to ensure the United States remains a global leader in telecommunications today, and well into the future. We look forward to filing formal comments on this important proposal, and many other pro-taxpayer items the FCC plans to tackle in the near-future.