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CEI Praises FCC for Breaking Impasse on 5.9 GHz Spectrum Band

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Today, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding the 5.9 GHz band of spectrum. For the last two decades, this band has been specifically allocated for Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) automobile safety technology. At present, DSRC safety technology has still not been widely adopted and would take over a decade, at a minimum, to achieve deployment at a useful scale. In the meantime, many automakers have already begun to integrate different, substitute technologies not reliant on DSRC. The 5.9 GHz band sits adjacent to spectrum allocated for Wi-Fi internet and the proposed reallocation would provide expanded spectrum for Wi-Fi technology while retaining non-adjacent spectrum for automotive safety technology.

CEI Research Fellow Patrick Hedger offered the following comments:

“Government is notoriously bad at allocating scarce resources towards their highest-valued uses, which is why we prefer markets perform this function. Spectrum is an exceptionally scarce resource of great importance and for the last 20 years, the government has essentially let an entire band go unused because of incorrect assumptions. Chairman Pai deserves tremendous credit for acknowledging the failed policy that has let useful spectrum sit fallow and for his efforts to do what government rarely does: improve efficiency.”

CEI Senior Fellow Marc Scribner offered the following comments:

“Regardless of one’s views on how the 5.9 GHz band should be allocated, it was clear the status quo of two decades was unacceptably inefficient. We hope Chairman Pai’s announcement will cause the Department of Transportation to officially withdraw its proposed DSRC mandate, which is currently mothballed at the Department as an undetermined long-term action. Formally withdrawing the proposed DSRC rule would reduce regulatory uncertainty and finally allow the debate over the 5.9 GHz band and emerging auto safety technologies to evolve to a higher level.”