The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has a key role to play in driving the development of connected and automated vehicles (“CAV”) technology. As we explained in a recent CAV IoT Update, the FCC has been studying the risks associated with specific CAV technologies that could provide unique channels for potential cyberattacks. This post examines the debate over spectrum allocation for CAV technologies.
Why the FCC Matters to Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Technology
The FCC makes critical decisions about what portions of the radio spectrum will be available for various fifth-generation (“5G”) and other new wireless services, including CAV technologies. Those decisions are part of the FCC’s authority to administer spectrum for use by states, local governments, commercial businesses, and consumers. While the FCC at one time had designated a specific band of spectrum, the 5.9 GHz band for vehicle-to-vehicle (“V2V”) communications, a debate recently was reignited over the future of that band and the best way of enabling spectrum for CAV technologies and for the broader range of next-generation technologies that will be available with deployment of 5G. Although the 5.9 GHz band is not the only portion of the spectrum that enables CAV technologies, it has attracted significant interest from, and debate among, automakers, wireless providers, chip manufacturers, WiFi advocates and others. These stakeholders are debating whether having one band dedicated to CAV is the most efficient and effective means of meeting demands in this country for spectrum access—demands that the recent Presidential Memorandum on national spectrum policy described as “never . . . greater than today, with the advent of autonomous vehicles and precision agriculture, the expansion of commercial space operations, and the burgeoning Internet of Things.”