Ford seeks OK to test C-V2X using DSRC spectrum in California, Michigan

Ford Motor Company is asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for permission to operate Cellular-V2X (C-V2X) prototype gear in frequencies allocated to Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) service.

Ford has been one of the biggest proponents of C-V2X over DSRC. Because the FCC’s rules currently don’t permit C-V2X in the 5.9 GHz band, the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) has filed a request with the FCC to allow for initial deployments of C-V2X in the 5.905-5.925 GHz portion of the 5.9 GHz band. That request is still pending. 

Other auto makers, like Toyota, are gung-ho for DSRC and continue to lobby for it to remain in tact. Spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band was allocated to DSRC a couple decades ago, but little transpired until recently, when others started eyeing the spectrum for other uses.

At one point earlier this year, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai signaled his intent to take a fresh look at the 5.9 GHz, but that stalled after U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao personally asked Pai for additional time before the commission takes up the 5.9 GHz proceeding.

In a Nov. 5 application, Ford said that in recognition of the emerging C-V2X platforms, it wants to test modular technologies that would use C-V2X functionality as an add-on module “in a manner that allows for developmental flexibility.” The proposed testing would support equipment research and development, field testing and proof of concept.

Specifically, Ford is integrating C-V2X functionality into the Telematics Control Unit (TCU) by using an add-on module that would attach to the TCU. The proposed testing would be done over the course of 24 months and in two stages: indoor laboratory and outdoor vehicular.

The locations for the tests are Palo Alto and Richmond in California and in Ann Arbor and Dearborn in Michigan.

RELATED: Ford reinforces its commitment to C-V2X, plans demos at CES with Qualcomm

Ford said it understands that under FCC rules, the proposed experiment must avoid causing interference to co-channel licensed operations. While the devices to be tested would operate on frequencies allocated to DSRC, Ford isn’t aware of any DSRC installations near the Ford Greenfield Labs in Palo Alto, but it is aware of DSRC test equipment installations in the other test locations. But given the maximum transmitting antenna height of 5.5 meters, the low power operation and the sporadic and non-continuous nature of the testing, it’s highly unlikely that the proposed experiment would result in harmful interference, according to the application.

The FCC earlier this year granted Ford permission to conduct experiments using the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) 3.5 GHz band as a solution for private LTE/5G networks for connected vehicle services. The scope of that experiment covered the setup of a temporary CBRS wireless network within a Ford parking structure on Ford’s Dearborn campus.