© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks ahead of expected Thanksgiving travel at O’Hare airport in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 21, 2022. REUTERS/Jim Vondruska/File Photo
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Democratic chairman and the top Republican on the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee urged the Biden administration to take an active role in helping automakers deploy “connected vehicle” technology to avoid crashes.
Democratic Representative Peter DeFazio and incoming chair Sam Graves in a letter Thursday urged Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg to help ensure automakers can deploy “vehicle-to-everything” (V2X) technologies to use cellular transmissions to avoid crashes and help address the rising number of U.S. traffic deaths.
The lawmakers were critical of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which in 2020 shifted much of a key spectrum block set aside for auto safety to accommodate the burgeoning number of wireless devices.
“Transportation stakeholders have highlighted the current challenges to V2X deployment, including regulatory uncertainty and a failure to quickly approve waivers for Cellular vehicle-to-everything,” the letter said. “Given the regulatory uncertainty caused by the FCC’s recent actions in the (connected vehicle) space, the (Transportation) Department must play a strong leadership role to support the deployment of V2X technologies.”
The FCC reallocated 60% of the 5.9 GHz band spectrum block that was reserved in 1999 for automakers to develop technology to allow vehicles to talk to each other to avoid crashes but has so far gone largely unused.
The FCC and USDOT did not immediately comment but USDOT said in October it “believes there continues to be significant disruption and challenges posed to current and future transportation safety communications and connectivity due to the reduction in the amount of dedicated spectrum.”
In August, a U.S. court upheld the FCC decision to reallocate 30 megahertz of the 75 megahertz reserved for connected vehicles to V2X while moving the other 45 megahertz to Wi-Fi use.
Automakers opposed the split on safety grounds, while major cable, telecom and content companies say the spectrum is essential to support growing Wi-Fi use.
Government studies have suggested the technology, if widely adopted among U.S. vehicles, could prevent at least 600,000 crashes annually.