Earlier this year, we joined together to write about making more space for Wi-Fi by exploring sharing opportunities in the 5850-5925 MHz band, or 5.9 GHz band. More unlicensed airwaves in this band could lead to lots of good things—more wireless hotspots, less network congestion, greater speeds, and faster innovation. So we are pleased to see that our vision for this spectrum is now a lot closer to reality thanks to the efforts of Congress and a broad group of stakeholders with interest in these airwaves.
First, a little history for perspective. Back in 1999, the 5.9 GHz band was set aside by the Commission for the automotive industry. Since that time, efforts have been underway to use this spectrum to develop technology that can reduce car crashes and improve roadway safety. This system, known as Dedicated Short Range Communications Service (DSRC), is designed to have cars “talk” in real time to one another and communicate with street lights, curbs, bicycles, and even pedestrians to reduce the number of auto accidents, including fatalities.
We saw efforts to develop DSRC firsthand this summer, when we travelled together to Michigan to visit the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP) and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), which are the national hubs for this safety initiative. While there, we test-drove new car safety prototypes, listened to concerns about possible Wi-Fi interference, and discussed spectrum sharing with both auto manufacturers and researchers. We also got the chance to see Mcity, one testing ground for the driverless cars of the future. It was a terrific visit, and we came away with a desire to work harder to resolve outstanding issues and improve opportunities for both auto safety and Wi-Fi in the 5.9 GHz band.
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