10.06.16

Peters, McCaskill Urge FCC to Conduct Thorough and Transparent Interference Testing in 5.9 GHz Band

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler urging the FCC to move forward with plans to test potential sharing and possible interference between short range communications used in advanced vehicle technologies and unlicensed Wi-Fi devices on the 5.9 GHz spectrum band.

 

“Transparent, thorough, and expeditious interference testing in the 5.9 GHz band provides the best opportunity to deploy revolutionary, life-saving vehicle technologies and drive continued wireless innovation,” wrote the Senators in the letter. “Further, testing and final determinations must move expeditiously both to ensure continued innovation within the wireless community and allow for unhindered deployment of life-saving technologies.”

 

The FCC is currently evaluating two proposals to share the 5.9 GHz band between Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) devices and Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) operations. The senators’ letter urges the FCC to thoroughly test and evaluate the hard data collected through testing to ensure the spectrum can be shared without interference. The letter copies Secretary Anthony Foxx of the U.S. Department of Transportation and Secretary Penny Pritzker of the U.S. Department of Commerce, since the agencies are coordinating with the FCC on interference testing.

 

The 5.9 GHz band is designated for use by Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). As the use of wireless devices has continued to grow, innovators are looking to open the 5.9 GHz band to improve the connectivity of U-NII devices. DSRC is used for connected automotive technologies like vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications that include the wireless transmission of safety and operational information between cars and infrastructure to prevent accidents and reduce traffic congestion. A 2013 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that once fully deployed, V2V and V2I technologies have the potential to reduce up to 80 percent of multi-vehicle accidents involving non-impaired drivers.

 

The full text of the letter is copied below and available here:

 

October 6, 2016

 

The Honorable Tom Wheeler

Chairman

Federal Communications Commission

445 12th Street SW

Washington, DC 20554

 

Dear Chairman Wheeler:

 

As members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (the Committee), we wrote to you in September 2015 expressing our support for a testing plan to evaluate interference avoidance and potential sharing solutions between proposed Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (UNII) devices and Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) operations in the 5.9 GHz band. On June 1, 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) responded with a Public Notice seeking comments to update and refresh the record in the proposed rulemaking regarding unlicensed devices in this band. The notice included an interdependent three-phase test plan for joint execution by the FCC, Department of Transportation (DOT) and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), with an expected completion date in early 2017. 

 

You testified recently before the Committee that the FCC has received prototype equipment from five manufacturers and is prepared to begin bench and field testing using empirical data in the analysis of device interference. We believe the Commission must evaluate all sharing proposals rigorously with facts and data, as well as allow for open review of the final test plan, testing data, engineering designs, and test results. Further, testing and final determinations must move expeditiously both to ensure continued innovation within the wireless community and allow for unhindered deployment of life-saving technologies.

 

In addition, we recognize that industry has capabilities that should be utilized to reach a full understanding of the effects of UNII devices sharing the 5.9 GHz band. We expect that any test results from outside parties submitted on the record will be given full consideration. Further, we encourage the Commission to leverage the extensive industry and DOT experience with DSRC and Wi-Fi throughout the field testing process.

 

All members of Congress, the FCC, DOT, NTIA, and the public should fully understand the implications of the proposed sharing solutions, as well as the operational theories upon which they are premised, for the 5.9 GHz band. The stakeholder community must be allowed an open review of relevant testing information and data, and the final decision must be based upon the data and objective evaluation of test results. Transparent, thorough, and expeditious interference testing in the 5.9 GHz band provides the best opportunity to deploy revolutionary, life-saving vehicle technologies and drive continued wireless innovation. We urge you to commit to a strong scientific testing process, and to continue to work with Congress and stakeholders to ensure a fair process that will yield an outcome that increases the safety of Americans while driving economic growth.