The DSRC Service involves vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, helping to protect the safety of the traveling public. It can save lives by warning drivers of an impending dangerous condition or event in time to take corrective or evasive actions. The band is also eligible for use by non-public safety entities for commercial or private DSRC operations.
In 1997, ITS America petitioned the Commission to allocate seventy-five megahertz of spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band for ITS, in particular for DSRC. The following year, in 1998, Congress passed and the President signed into law the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century ("TEA-21"), which directed the Commission, in consultation with the Department of Transportation (DOT), to consider the spectrum needs “for the operation of intelligent transportation systems, including spectrum for the dedicated short-range vehicle-to-wayside wireless standard,” DSRC. TEA-21 also directed DOT to promote, through the National Architecture, interoperability among ITS technologies implemented throughout the United States. In October 1999, the Commission allocated the 5.9 GHz band for DSRC-based ITS applications and adopted basic technical rules for DSRC operations.
On December 17, 2003 the Commission adopted a Report and Order establishing licensing and service rules for the Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) Service in the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Radio Service in the 5.850-5.925 GHz band (5.9 GHz band). There is also a co-primary Federal Government radiolocation allocation (for use by high-powered military services) in the 5.850-5.925 GHz band, a co-primary fixed satellite (earth-to-space) allocation, and the amateur service has a secondary allocation in the band. Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) equipment may also operate in the 5.850-5.875 MHz portion of the band.
On July 20, 2006, the Commission adopted a Memorandum Opinion and Order which, among other decisions, designated Channel 172 exclusively for vehicle-to-vehicle safety communications for accident avoidance and mitigation, and safety of life and property applications; and designated Channel 184 exclusively for high-power, longer distance communications to be used for public safety applications involving safety of life and property, including road intersection collision mitigation.
On November 20, 2020, the Commission issued a Report and Order which adopted rules that repurposed the 5850-5895 MHz portion (lower 45 megahertz) of the 5.9 GHz band for the expansion of unlicensed mid-band spectrum operations, while continuing to dedicate the 5895-5925 MHz portion (upper 30 megahertz) of the band for ITS operations. The Report and Order gave Part 90 ITS licensees operating in the lower 45 megahertz until July 5, 2022 to cease operations in that portion of the band and transition to the upper 30 megahertz and eliminated the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau’s and Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau’s regulatory authority to accept, process, and grant license applications that specify use of the lower 45 megahertz portion of the band. The Report and Order further ordered that, following a transition period, ITS operations transition from Dedicated Short-Range Communication technology to cellular vehicle to everything (C-V2X) based technology. The Commission proposed that the transition of ITS operations from DSRC based technology to C-V2X based technology will occur according to a timeline to be determined in a future Report and Order. A decision on these rule changes has not yet been rendered. In the interim, ITS licensees that wish to operate in the upper 30 megahertz using C-V2X based technology may submit waivers requesting that the Bureaus waive the existing DSRC based rules.
Equipment in the DSRC Service comprises On-Board Units (OBUs) and Roadside Units (RSUs). An OBU is a transceiver that is normally mounted in or on a vehicle, or in some instances may be a portable unit. OBUs mounted in vehicles and portable units are licensed by rule under Part 95 of the Rules. An RSUs is a transceiver that is mounted along a road or pedestrian passageway. An RSU may also be mounted on a vehicle or hand carried, but it may only operate when the vehicle or hand-carried unit is stationary. An RSU broadcasts data to OBUs or exchanges data with OBUs in its communications zone. RSUs operate under Part 90 of the Rules.
We license DSRC Roadside Units (RSUs), communication units that are fixed along the roadside, under subpart M (Intelligent Transportation Radio Service) of Part 90 of the Commission’s Rules. We require licensees to register RSUs by site and segment(s). We license On-Board Units (OBUs), in-vehicle communications units, by rule under new subpart L of Part 95 of our Rules.
Governmental entities will be authorized a geographic-area license based on that entity’s legal jurisdictional area of operations. Non-governmental entities, will be licensed based on each applicant’s area-of-operation, i.e., by county, state, multi-state, or nationwide. Frequency coordination will not be necessary. Those applicants who are approved will each be granted a non-exclusive license for the geographic-area requested, i.e., county, state etc. Operation may not begin until licensees register RSU sites, channels, and other relevant data in the Universal Licensing System (ULS). RSUs at locations within 75 kilometers of Government radar sites are also subject to NTIA coordination. Operation may not begin until NTIA approval is received.
The following entities are eligible to hold an authorization to operate Roadside units (RSUs) in the DSRCS:
- Any territory, possession, state, city, county, town or similar governmental entity, and
- any public safety or industrial/business entity meeting the eligibility requirements of CFR 90.33 or 90.35.
The ITS band is divided into seven ten-megahertz channels consisting of one Control Channel, six Service Channels and one five megahertz channel, which is held in reserve. Channels 172 and 184 are designated for public safety applications involving safety of life and property. Only those entities meeting the requirements of §90.373(a) are eligible to hold an authorization to operate on channel 184. The Commission will issue an unlimited number of non-exclusive licenses to non-Federal Government public safety and non-public safety entities.
Licensees must register RSU sites, channels, and other relevant data on the Universal Licensing System (ULS) under the call sign of the relevant license. ULS will refer RSU registrations through NTIA that are within seventy-five kilometers of any of the existing Government radar sites listed in Section 90.371(b). ULS will send an acceptance letter to the licensee when the site is registered with NTIA. Any registered location rejected by NTIA for coordination will be dismissed.
Authority to operate begins after the filing is screened and the registration is posted on the Universal Licensing System (ULS). The Universal Licensing System (ULS) uses an automated "overnight batch" program to screen registration filings and RSUs that do not require additional processing will be posted within one business day (for electronically filed registrations). RSU registrations are subject to the requirements of Section 1.923 of the Commission’s rules (antenna structure registration, environmental concerns, international coordination, and quiet zones). RSU registrations that raise these issues may require additional time to process. Licensees must plan ahead given that authority to operate does not begin until the registration process is completed. All entities for which the Commission has licensing authority are authorized by rule to operate an FCC certified On-Board Unit in accordance with the rules contained in Part 95. No individual FCC license will be issued. (The FCC does not have authority to license foreign governments or their representatives, nor stations belonging to and operated by the United States Government.).
There is no limit to the number of non-exclusive geographic-area licenses that may be granted for this band. Licenses serve as a prerequisite of registering individual RSUs located within the licensed geographic area. This spectrum will not be subject to any aggregation limit, so each licensee will use channels in accordance with the ASTM-DSRC Standard and the Commission's rules.
Applicants for non-exclusive licenses are encouraged to electronically file FCC Form 601 using the Universal Licensing System (ULS). To file using ULS:
Go to ULS and select Online Filing. Enter your FCC Registration Number (FRN) and password. NOTE: Applicants must have an FRN in order to file applications and link registrations in ULS. If the applicant does not have an existing FRN, it must register and obtain an FRN prior to filing the license application.
Specify that you are filing an application in the IQ - Intelligent Transportation Radio Service (Public Safety) or QQ - Intelligent Transportation Service (Non-Public Safety) and specify the purpose of the application as New (NE) (see ULS Filing Purposes).
Applicants for DSRC geographic area applications will be required to file FCC Form 601 Main Form and Schedule B. ULS will automatically load FCC Form 601. NOTE: An FCC Form 601 Schedule D must be included with the application for the initial non-exclusive license. Because the non-exclusive license serves as a prerequisite for registering sites, an applicant will initially receive a single license for all frequency bands (5.855 – 5.925 GHz) with the exception of channels 172 and 184 for non-public safety entities.
Once filed, applications are assigned file numbers and all applications (and major amendments thereto) that are accepted for filing are listed on the Bureau’s Weekly Status Public Notices under the Site-based section.
See Public Notice DA 04-3165 (pdf) for further information.