AASHTO, ITS America Sue FCC to Stop Spectrum Reallocation

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America are suing the Federal Communications Commission in federal court to stop the agency’s plan to reallocate swaths of the 5.9-gigahertz (GHz) wireless communication spectrum to non-transportation uses.

[Above photo by the District of Columbia Circuit Court]

ITS America and AASHTO said in a statement they took this action to ensure vehicle-to-everything or V2X technologies can continue safely operating throughout the 5.9 GHz band.

The lawsuit – filed in the D.C. Circuit Court – seeks to reverse the November 2020 decision by the FCC to shift 60 percent of the 5.9 GHz spectrum to unlicensed, non-transportation uses, while also preserving the full 75-megahertz (MHz) band within the overall 5.9 GHz spectrum for transportation communications.

Jim Tymon

“Keeping people safe is the top priority for every state department of transportation,” said Jim Tymon, AASHTO’s executive director. “We believe the FCC ruling has undermined state DOTs’ ability to utilize the 5.9 GHz safety frequency as it was intended to be used.”

“Safety has always been our top priority,” added Shailen Bhatt, president and CEO of ITS America. “We are taking this action because V2X technologies continue to be our best available tool to significantly reduce crashes and save lives on American roadways.”

Shailen Bhatt

Transportation industry organizations roundly panned FCC’s 5.9 GHz reallocation plan – which has been in the works for more than a year – due to its impact on vehicle safety efforts.

“The leaders of all 50 state DOTs, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico are unanimous in their support for preserving the 5.9 GHz wireless spectrum for transportation-only usage,” noted AASHTO’s Tymon in an earlier statement.

“Without the full 5.9 GHz spectrum available to use for connected vehicle technologies it will be significantly more difficult to eliminate the kinds of vehicle crashes that contribute to more than 37,000 fatalities on America’s roadways each year, as well as the safe deployment of connected and automated vehicles,” he explained.

Tymon made the same points in several missives for more than a year to the FCCCongress, and even the White House.

“The 5.9 GHz band has been part of the spectrum that has been reserved for use for life-saving transportation technologies,” he emphasized. “At a time when we are trying to get to zero traffic fatalities, the FCC should stay the course and not give up the spectrum that the transportation community has been counting on – and has already made considerable investments in – to help save lives.”

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