A U.S. appeals court has rejected a challenge to the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) decision to split a Wi-Fi spectrum previously reserved for auto safety technology.
According to a recent report from Reuters, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected a legal challenge brought forth by the Intelligent Transportation Society of America and American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, in which the groups sought to overturn an FCC decision handed down in November of 2020 that splits a Wi-Fi spectrum block previously set aside for new auto safety tech features.
Back in 1999, the 5.9 GHz spectrum block was reserved for use by automakers to develop new auto safety tech such as vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) Short-Range Communications (DSRC) crash avoidance systems. Some studies have suggested that widespread implementation of these systems could prevent upwards of 600,000 crashes annually.
However, automakers have largely left the spectrum block more or less unused. In fact, the only GM vehicle to offer a V2V DSRC system was the Cadillac CTS.
As such, the FCC voted unanimously in 2020 to divide the Wi-Fi spectrum block in question, allocating greater bandwidth for other onboard connected services, such as web connections for wireless devices.
At the time of the FCC’s decision, former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the COVID-19 pandemic had created a “pressing need” for the government to allocate additional blocks of the Wi-Fi spectrum for public use, with additional bandwidth for “telework, remote learning, telehealth, and other broadband-related services.”
In response, GM issued a statement that the FCC had “moved towards jeopardizing roadway safety” by splitting up the block. Former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao also did not support the decision, saying that it could result in “thousands more deaths annually on road and millions more injuries than would be the case otherwise.”