Panasonic urges FCC to protect 5.9 GHz for V2X

The Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC) community continues its fight to hold on to precious 5.9 GHz spectrum, with representatives of Panasonic Corporation of North America, the Safety Spectrum Coalition and several state departments of transportation meeting with advisers to FCC commissioners and with FCC staff.

Representatives from the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Utah Department of Transportation, the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Nevada Department of Transportation were among those at the meetings earlier this month.

During the meetings, the vehicle-to-everything (V2X) advocates discussed the importance of protecting all seven channels of 5.9 GHz spectrum for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) communications. They said V2X technology dramatically increases roadway safety, with the potential to eliminate 89% of light-vehicle-to-light-vehicle crashes and 85% of their associated economic costs, according to an ex parte filing (PDF).

The meetings are notable given that commissioners Michael O’Rielly and Jessica Rosenworcel have previously argued that it’s been years since DSRC was allocated for vehicle safety and nothing transpired from the auto industry. In the intervening years since the spectrum was set aside for DSRC, technological advances reduced the potential for interference and enabled spectrum sharing, allowing for potential new unlicensed opportunities in the band without causing harmful interference to DSRC.

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Meanwhile, another camp wants the U.S. to mandate cellular-based V2X (C-V2X) technology to meet the needs for road safety and communicating between cars, infrastructure and everything else. Ford and Qualcomm, for example, made a point at the CES 2018 show to push for cellular-based V2X.

But the auto industry has argued that indeed, it is making progress with DSRC and must keep the full allotment of 5.9 GHz spectrum for DSRC and road safety. Each of the state representatives that visited with FCC staff in the recent meetings talked about their current and planned deployment of V2X technology and insisted that the 5.9 GHz spectrum must be preserved to avoid stranding their significant investments.

The Michigan DOT has deployed or plans to deploy 400 DSRC roadside units prior to the end of 2019 throughout Michigan. Most of the deployments are focused on Southeast Michigan, including Detroit and surrounding areas. MDOT enacted a policy to add DSRC technology at every signal location statewide as it is being modernized.

In addition, the Ann Arbor Connected Vehicle Test Environment has been expanded to cover 27 square miles of the city and includes DSRC-enabled vehicles and infrastructure at 45 intersections and 12 freeway sites. And the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute plans to deploy 1,500 vehicles per year, with a goal of 5,000 vehicles on the road by the end of 2018.

In Nevada, there are 18 DSRC units over a more than 30-mile corridor between Reno and Carson City as part of a multiyear project. Those units enable real-time mobile weather-related data from snowplows and maintenance vehicles for improving the state’s snow and ice removal efforts.

Colorado’s DOT is making a $70 million investment in connected vehicles via its partnership with Panasonic and others; it’s pursuing an ecosystem that would include both DSRC and cellular platforms. Within the next four years, CDOT will have more than 500 miles of highway outfitted with roadside units to support V2X activities.

The meetings indicate how much investment continues to be made in DSRC and raise questions about how DSRC and cellular-based V2X might coexist. Earlier this year (PDF), representatives of the 5G Automotive Association paid a visit to the FCC to discuss the cellular technology that has been standardized in 3GPP Release 14. They discussed the potential of C-V2X to improve safety on the nation’s roads by facilitating the flow of information between vehicles, pedestrians, road infrastructure and networks. The parties also noted that work is already underway to further enhance the safety benefits offered by CV2X in future 3GPP releases.