V2X Safety Bandwidth Under Threat in America

I recently wrote about the enthusiastic backing V2X has received by two credible, safety-focused associations in Europe. Meanwhile in the U.S., V2X rollout may move into the distance. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) recently proposed to give a portion of the 5.9 GHz band, previously reserved for V2X, to WiFi for the operation of unlicensed devices. The period for comment on the related notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) closed March 9. NXP filed comment and issued a whitepaper on the topic, which you can find here.

I encourage you to read the entire whitepaper, but in broad strokes, NXP recommends keeping the 5.9 GHz band reserved for transportation and vehicle applications, with a special focus on safety. Based on the current state of technology, the recommendation is seven channels of 10 MHz to enable uncompromised road safety based on the mature and strong Wi-Fi-based DSRC technology.

And NXP is not alone. Several industry groups, carmakers like Volkswagen, as well as ITS America submitted comments urging the FCC to put lives first by withdrawing its proposal to give away a majority of the spectrum currently used for transportation safety critical communications. The ITSA went on to say that “The FCC is proposing this change without any analysis or evidence that shows these life-saving technologies will continue to operate successfully in only 30 MHz of spectrum,” and “Its proposal is based on an incomplete and flawed understanding of the role the 5.9GHz band plays in creating a safer transportation network.”

NXP also strongly supports the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) analysis “Preliminary Technical Assessment: Concerns with Draft FCC NPRM: Use of the 5.850-5.925 GHz Band [ET Docket No. 19-138]”. The analysis indicated that the NPRM in its current form might not benefit the road safety of U.S. citizens, and is likely to delay the introduction of V2X technology in U.S. by more than five years as people wait for cellular V2X to be implemented and mature.

The battle is not over yet. The FCC recently extended the opportunity to reply to comments on its proposed rulemaking to April 27. This is one story we should all be following very closely as the implications on road safety are far reaching.

Andrew Turley
Andrew Turley
Andrew Turley is Senior Director of Innovation and V2X Program Manager at NXP Semiconductors. Andrew is a 30-year veteran of the semiconductor industry, focusing on research, engineering design and development for the automotive industry.

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