Momentum: Issue #50

July 20, 2020

FCC Likely to Vote on Reallocation of 5.9 GHz Safety Spectrum in the Fall

In 1997, building upon the development of a national ITS architecture, ITS America petitioned the FCC to allocate spectrum for ITS services to increase the safety and efficiency of the nation’s transportation system. For more than 20 years, ITS America has been a leader in advancing and now trying to help preserve the 5.9 GHz “safety spectrum.”

As ITS America members know, this has been one of the association’s top priorities for a long time. In February, the FCC issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would reallocate 45 MHz while leaving only 30 MHz available for transportation safety communications. We believe it is now likely that the FCC will issue a final rulemaking this fall, during its September or October meetings.

Since the beginning of the year, we have undertaken a number of actions in an attempt to prevent the FCC from reallocating spectrum in the 5.9 GHz safety spectrum band, including submitting comments and reply comments; reaching out to key members of Congress; and developing a broad group of stakeholders from organizations related to transportation, safety, and health and working with them to implement regulatory, legislative, and media advocacy strategies.

FCC Filings: After ITS America filed its comment and reply comment, policy staff analyzed submissions and created synopses that showed the vast majority of comments and reply comments – more than 85 percent – opposed the FCC’s proposal and supported preserving the entire band for V2X technologies. They uniformly expressed the view that the FCC proposal will harm transportation safety and does not consider the vast positive economic impacts of V2X technologies.

If you haven’t had a chance to read them, here are our comment and reply comment as well as the comment synopsis and reply comment synopsis.

On Capitol Hill: Several ITS America board members, while in Washington for the March board meeting, met with members of Congress to discuss the 5.9 GHz safety spectrum issue. Legislative affairs secured meetings with targeted members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, which has jurisdiction over FCC oversight and spectrum issues, including one with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Ranking Member. Based on the outcome of that meeting, members and staff continue to participate in virtual meetings with Senate Commerce Committee members.

Broad Stakeholder Engagement: Early in 2020, ITS America contacted more than 60 organizations to build engagement on the FCC’s 5.9 GHz proposal from a broader set of stakeholders. This included transportation-related organizations, bicycle and pedestrian organizations, school safety groups, first responders, and healthcare-related organizations.

Recently, we partnered with the Alliance for Automotive Innovation and developed advocacy and media strategies targeting Congress, the White House, and the FCC.  Last month, the groups organized dozens of stakeholders to sign a letter to the Commerce Committee asking it to use its legislative and oversight authority to prevent the FCC from implementing its proposal. 

Media Amplification: ITS America has become a go-to for reporters covering V2X – a 2019 CQ Roll story on Shailen Bhatt was quoted and ITS America referred to as “a trade association that has emerged as a leading proponent of preserving the spectrum for transportation.”

In anticipation of FCC action this fall, we are working with coalition stakeholders to place opinion editorial pieces in media outlets in key markets across the country. We are also hoping to flood Twitter this Wednesday, July 22, with V2X safety messages that tag the FCC. All ITS America members are encouraged to join us to push the hashtag #SavetheSafetySpectrum on that day.

As always, ITS America will update members on issues related to the 5.9 GHz spectrum. Thank you for your continued engagement as we work together to create a better future transformed by intelligent mobility – one that is safer, greener, and smarter.