FCC Defends Decision to Free Vehicle-to-Vehicle Spectrum for WiFi

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The Federal Communications Commission, backed by the Department of Justice, told the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit that it was reasonable for the FCC to reclaim a swath of 5.9 GHz licensed vehicular communications spectrum for unlicensed WiFi and it had the authority to do so. The Intelligent Transportation Society of America and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials sued the FCC over its unanimous decision and had sought an emergency stay from the court, which denied that request in August 2021, meaning the underlying case proceeded. The FCC voted unanimously under former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to free up the lower 45 MHz of the 5.9 GHz band for wireless broadband while transitioning the remaining upper 30 MHz to the latest iteration of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, and cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technology. In its recent filing, the FCC said that its decision was reasonable and reasonably explained; that its repurposing excess spectrum to meet the burgeoning demand for unlicensed WiFi was in the public interest, and that it has the authority to repurpose spectrum and modify licenses. The FCC said, there is "a pressing need for improved WiFi internet service and other unlicensed uses," and that the 5.9 GHz spectrum could be freed up "while also preserving ample capacity for present and anticipated vehicular-communications needs."

FCC Defends Decision to Free V2V Spectrum for WiFi