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WISPA vs. 5GAA

Automotive manufacturers seem to prefer C-V2X rather than DSRC as the connectivity medium for vehicles in the push toward full-on autonomous driving. But the 5.9 GHz band is not without its defenders, particularly fixed wireless broadband providers who use the mid-band frequency.

In a Feb. 8 letter to the U.S. Federal Communication Commission’s Office of Engineering and Technology, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association outlined its objections to the 5G Automotive Association’s move to get exclusive nationwide access to the 5.9 GHz band for cellular to everything communications.

WISPA, an advocacy group representing largely smaller service providers, notes an ongoing proceeding to reconsider use of the 5.9 GHz band which would be side-stepped by a petition from 5GAA to reallocate the spectrum for C-V2X. Aside from the procedural issue, WISPA says giving 5.9 GHz over for use by automotive interests “would essentially pull the rug out from underneath that proceeding in favor of one focused solely on 5GAA’s technology and use case. Substantively, the petition and the impending petition for rulemaking that 5GAA indicates it will file would mark a return to an outdated spectrum policy that allocated spectrum mandating a single technology or a single use case in contravention to the flexible use policy that is the hallmark of current spectrum policy. In fact, it is the Commission’s decision in 1999 to allocate the 5.9 GHz band to Dedicated Short Range Communications…that led to massive non-use of the band and stymied innovation, leading to the ongoing proceeding to consider other uses of the band. By dismissing or denying the Petition, the commission can avoid the same outcome.”

In a filing filled with vehicular puns, WISPA says, “Mandating C-V2X technology would…send the 5.9 GHz band the wrong way down a one-way street – and would do so outside the required rulemaking process.”

5GAA members represent major telecom and automotive stakeholders, including American Tower, AT&T, Audi, BMW, Bosch, Daimler, Ericsson, Ford, Honda, Huawei, Intel, Jaguar Land Rover, Nokia, Orange and Qualcomm among others.

To get a sense of the momentum behind C-V2X, take a look at what Ford is doing–the American auto manufacturing during the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show committed to using C-V2X to connect all new domestic models by 2022, further sounding the death knell for DSRC.

In a blog entry, Don Butler, Ford’s executive director for its connected vehicle platform and products, said that the company’s C-V2X plans “[build]on our prior commitment to equip every model we release in the United States with conventional cellular connectivity by the end of 2019.” C-V2X will work with the Ford Co-Pilot360 offering of driver-assist and safety features on new passenger cars, SUVs and trucks going forward, he added. Such driver assistance features and future autonomous vehicles rely on on-board sensors, Butler noted, and called C-V2X a “complement” to those systems. He described C-V2X as “planned alongside the rapidly building 5G cellular network.”

“Our hope is that this would spur others to potentially reassess and, in other cases, decide on this direction,” Butler said in an interview with Bloomberg. “We’ve been looking at DSRC for a number of years along with Toyota, GM and Honda, so this is not a step that we take lightly in the sense of dismissing DSRC. But we think this is the right step to make given where we see the technology headed.”