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How the Safety Band Enables Transportation Innovation

The promise of safety and mobility benefits from the 5.9 GHz Safety Band are already being realized across the country. Currently 25 states and over 100 connected vehicle deployments currently or will soon rely on the Safety Band. 
Transportation initiatives in areas such automated and connected vehicles, truck platooning, and safety applications all make use of the 5.9 GHz Safety Band. The 5.9 GHz Safety Band serves as the experimental and testing ground for automated vehicle technologies.


The Federal Communication Commissions (FCC) current Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), if enacted, will severely curtail if not altogether end access to this important spectrum. Taking it away will set back the development of this transformative technology in the United States. Without the necessary 5.9GHz Safety Band spectrum, the nation will be at a disadvantage in efforts to establish a nationwide connected and automated vehicle environment. By arbitrarily selecting a 20-30 MHz band size for transportation, the FCC is jeopardizing the US leadership in the development, testing, and use of cooperative automation technologies. The United States will lag behind the rest of the world in advancing innovation. As other countries continue to advance their transportation systems toward reduced fatalities, injuries, and lower traffic congestion, the US, with our limitations on the Safety Band, will find ourselves behind in automation research, the Internet of Things, Smart Community connectivity, and other future innovations. 


If the FCC advances this proposed NPRM, the move will have a significant impact on innovative research that is accelerating automation research. These efforts include:

  • The Cooperative Automation Research Mobility Applications (CARMA) open source platform, which is accelerating cooperative driving automation (CDA) research and enabling Automated Driving Systems (ADS) that facilitate tactical maneuvers in complex transportation scenarios.
  • Traffic optimization on signalized corridors. These ensure smoother traffic flow, decreased delays and total travel time.
  • Cooperative Automated Truck Platooning that result in substantial fuel savings.
  • Participation in an SAE International standards-setting effort to define cooperative driving automation enabled through communications in support of supporting or enabled ADS.

Despite the FCC’s wording that this NPRM seeks to promote innovation, it is USDOT’s opinion that this NPRM clearly obstructs transportation innovation. If enacted, the NPRM would simply allow existing UNII-3 technologies to take over the band, a move that is irreversible once the unlicensed technologies are on the marketplace and in use. 

Last updated: Monday, April 20, 2020