Public Knowledge Applauds DC Circuit Court Ruling Upholding FCC Spectrum Authority

Today, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s November 2020 report and order to reclaim part of the automotive industry’s 5.9 GHz spectrum band in this case. , ITS America vs. FCC. Public Knowledge filed an amicus brief in support of the FCC and commends the court for strengthening the FCC’s spectrum authority, marking a major victory toward bridging the digital divide.

In 1999, the FCC gave the automotive industry 75 MHz of spectrum exclusively for “dedicated short-range communications” (DSRC) in an effort to improve public safety. After more than 20 years of waiting for the industry to deploy DSRC, the FCC in 2020 approved an order to phase out DSRC and replace it with a new, more efficient technology called Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C -V2X).

As we explain in our brief, the 30 MHz of spectrum retained by the automotive industry is more than enough for collision avoidance and safety purposes. Rather than allowing the automotive industry to retain excess spectrum for commercial uses such as location-based advertising, the FCC reallocated the lower 45 MHz for license-free use, which will enable the next generation of Wi- FI.

The new unlicensed allocation in the 5.9 GHz band is adjacent to the existing “unlicensed” spectrum in the 5.8 GHz band, allowing existing equipment to support gigabit Wi-Fi. This will enable new critical home applications such as distance learning and telemedicine. Additionally, access to this additional spectrum will allow wireless Internet service providers in rural areas to significantly increase the stability and bandwidth of their networks.

The following can be attributed to Kathleen Burke, Policy Advisor at Public Knowledge:

“DC Circuit’s opinion is a victory for the public interest. Not only did the court reaffirm the FCC’s authority as the expert agency on spectrum decisions, it also upheld the FCC’s correct call to stop funding auto industry speculation on intelligent transportation services that were still under development. after more than 20 years.

“The Board first authorized ITS licensing in 1999. Since then, the technology and public interest demands on our country’s airwaves have changed. While ITS licensees sat on valuable spectrum they never used, new players came up with promising automotive public safety solutions using unlicensed and cellular technologies.

“By reaffirming the FCC’s decision, the DC Circuit will ensure that our airwaves are used optimally and efficiently. The 45 MHz of underutilized spectrum that the FCC has reallocated to unlicensed uses will enable more affordable Internet access, especially in rural and underserved areas; provide additional capacity for mobile services to offload data onto congested wireless airwaves; and ushering in next-generation Wi-Fi technology capable of supporting telemedicine, distance learning, and other valuable services.

“Like the FCC, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals made the right decision. Spectrum is too precious a resource to let failed technologies control its use for decades.

You can see our amicus brief for more details on why Public Knowledge strongly supported the FCC’s Spectrum Authority.

Members of the media can contact Director of Communications Shiva Stella with questions, interview requests, or to join Public Knowledge’s press list at [email protected] or 405-249-9435.

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