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CEI Comments to FCC on Proposed Reallocation of 5.9 GHz Band

This morning, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on its proposal to reallocate a portion of the 5.9 GHz band from Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) to unlicensed Wi-Fi.

For two decades, 75 MHz between 5.850-5.925 GHz has been allocated for ITS purposes, which was subsequently defined to mean for dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), a particular wireless “talking car” protocol that has seen little deployment over that time period. CEI has been critical of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s approach to DSRC and connected vehicle technology for years, submitting regulatory comments to the Department in 2014, 2017, and 2019.

In recent years, the growth of Wi-Fi devices has congested the unlicensed bands immediately adjacent to the 5.9 GHz ITS band, creating tension between the automotive and telecommunications industries.

Our comments to the FCC develop the following points:

  1. The Department of Transportation’s proposed DSRC policies to date were deficient on fiscal and legal grounds.
  2. Serious cybersecurity and privacy issues remain unresolved.
  3. The Department of Transportation has failed to consider anticipated consumer behavior that would undermine its policy approach.
  4. Relying on the Department of Transportation’s unrealistically optimistic assumptions still shows very small safety benefits over the long-run.
  5. The Department of Transportation’s own field research contradicts claims that DSRC technology is deployment-ready.
  6. The FCC should have held an auction for the 5.9 GHz band to allow the market to determine the best and highest use of those frequencies.
  7. The FCC’s proposal, while not ideal from a pro-market perspective, is still superior to the status quo.

Read the full comment letter here.