Advocates for cellular Vehicle to Everything technology (C-V2X) in the US notched a significant win on Monday as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) cleared the way for its deployment in Utah and Virginia, ending a years-long saga.
The FCC granted a joint waiver for Audi, Ford and Jaguar Land Rover to deploy C-V2X technology in the specified states alongside 9 equipment manufacturers after 16 months spent awaiting approval. The interested parties want to use the upper 30 megahertz of the 5.9 GHz band, known as the “safety band,” for deployment. The FCC reserved this band for vehicle communication technology in 1999, but it has seen little use outside of limited dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) technology.
DSRC technology is now obsolete, and the FCC recognized the need to transition toward C-V2X in 2020. In the meantime, however, the commission voted to repurpose most of the band for unlicensed WiFi content providers. This decision led to failed legal action from the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Vehicle communication advocates claimed the reassignment would complicate wireless roadway communication.
At the time, the FCC encouraged those wanting to deploy C-V2X technology to seek a waiver while they went through the rulemaking process. While the elongated process has frustrated some stakeholders, this limited access approval will finally allow C-V2X developers to deploy revolutionary technology that equips all roadway participants—vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists and infrastructure—to communicate in real time.
C-V2X technology provides a pathway for connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) development. With a C-V2X framework, CAV developers can unlock the potential of autonomous vehicles by allowing cars to communicate with each other, infrastructure and other partners in the transportation equation. This real-time information sharing will produce a more efficient and seamless experience. For instance, vehicles could share real-time traffic conditions allowing for strategic routing that avoids major traffic jams and efficiently distributes travelers.
The FCC has yet to finalize rules for the technology but said, “Permitting C-V2X technologies to deploy now, prior to adoption of final C-V2X rules, will serve the public interest by advancing vehicular safety and promoting interoperability. We intend by this Order to enable a fast transition to the next generation of technology in this spectrum band.”
Advocates cheered Monday’s decision, hailing it as a paradigm-shifting decision for future technology. Bryan Mulligan, president of Applied Information, a company that develops connected intelligent transportation systems, said, “The FCC decision to grant a waiver for C-V2X deployment is a major step forward in the efforts of roadway safety. The industry has said C-V2X is ready to deploy, now it is time to deploy.”
Dentons’ Public Policy team includes recognized leaders in the transportation and broadband sectors with decades of experience advising and representing clients on a variety of legislative and regulatory matters. Through its Global Smart Cities & Connected Communities Initiative and Autonomous Vehicle practice group, Dentons stands ready to assist automotive OEMs, fleets, metropolitan planning organizations, transit agencies and broadband providers in navigating and influencing the dynamic regulatory landscape surrounding interconnectivity in transportation.