In formal comments filed at the Federal Communications Commission in response to a notice of proposed rulemaking, Consumer Reports raises serious concerns about the proposal to take a portion of the airwaves reserved for auto safety and repurpose them for WiFi.
CR is urging the FCC not to move forward until the agency and the Department of Transportation (DOT) can demonstrate that the proposal is sufficient for transportation safety. Specifically, CR is calling for the FCC and DOT to ensure that safety features using vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications—technologies that allow cars to “talk” to one another and to highway infrastructure—can be rolled out securely and effectively.
Each year, motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. kill almost 40,000 people and send an additional 2.3 million people to hospital emergency rooms. V2X technology is especially promising for addressing this terrible toll by significantly reducing the number and severity of crashes.
The FCC proposal would take away more than half the spectrum currently set aside for auto safety and repurpose it for unlicensed uses, such as WiFi. It would split the remainder between two competing auto safety technologies. But the proposal does not provide clear and convincing data that shows the new plan will protect the ability to use V2X technology to save lives.
CR has a long history of advocating for auto safety and increased broadband internet access. When faced with weighing these competing interests, CR prioritizes policies to eliminate the unnecessary loss of life that can be achieved, in part, through V2X technology using this spectrum.
Until the FCC and DOT can demonstrate that this current proposal, or an alternative approach, is sufficient to ensure secure and effective application of V2X for safety purposes, the FCC should not release this spectrum dedicated to traffic safety. It should instead focus on other opportunities it has put forth, but has yet to finalize, that could provide much greater internet access at a reasonable cost for consumers. V2X applications can work effectively to save lives, but they will need adequate spectrum resources to do so.