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Letter in Support of FCC Rulemaking for 5.9 GHz Spectrum

December 4, 2019 

Chairman Ajit Pai
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C.  20554 

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554                   

Commissioner Michael O’Rielly
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554 

Commissioner Geoffrey Starks
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554                                                     

Commissioner Brendan Carr
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C.  20554

RE:  ET Docket No. 19-138, Use of the 5.850-5.925 GHz Band

Dear Chairman Pai, Commissioners Rosenworcel, O’Rielly, Starks, and Carr,

The undersigned organizations, on behalf of millions of our members and supporters across the country, write to provide our support for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the 5.9 GHz proceeding.  Chairman Pai’s proposed compromise will eliminate unnecessarily restrictive legacy rules and free this band for more efficient and intensive use by both broadband and transportation technologies. 

In 1999, the FCC granted exclusive rights, with no auction, buildout rules, or sharing responsibilities, to 75 MHz of spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band for a single, government-picked technology: dedicated short-range communications (DSRC).[1]   Not surprisingly, 20 years later, this command and control regulation has failed.  In all that time, only one company deployed only one car with DSRC, and that one car will be discontinued after the 2019 model year.  Today, no automaker has active plans to deploy DSRC. 

At the same time, consumer demand for wireless broadband has skyrocketed.  Wi-Fi became available in 1999, the same year as the 5.9 GHz set aside, but unlike DSRC, Wi-Fi is ubiquitous.  Cisco predicts that nearly 57 percent of U.S. internet traffic will travel over Wi-Fi by 2022.  The enormous demand has resulted in congestion, and there have been no new allocations of mid-band spectrum suitable for Wi-Fi in more than a decade. 

Chairman Pai’s proposal will dedicate the upper 30 megahertz of 5.9 GHz for automotive safety applications in a technology-neutral manner, while adding the lower 45 megahertz of the band to the adjacent 5.8 GHz band which is widely used for Wi-Fi today.  Thanks to Chairman Pai’s thoughtful compromise proposal, severely underused spectrum can be put to work, help enable deployment of next-generation wireless broadband technologies with faster speeds to consumers in the near term, and still provide spectrum access for automotive safety innovations. 

In particular, the proposal will create the country’s first widely-usable, contiguous 160 MHz Wi-Fi channel, which can deliver multi-gigabit low latency connections to support 5G services in dense indoor environments.  As a November 29, 2018 RAND study has detailed, opening the 5.9 GHz spectrum for unlicensed use will contribute up to $100 billion to GDP.[2] 

While the deployment of DSRC technologies has been virtually nonexistent in the 5.9 GHz band, innovative automotive safety technologies are being deployed.  Sensors, cameras, and radar-based technologies are alerting drivers to impending dangers and blind spots.  Many cars have and will have innovative features to improve highway traffic management and allow automated parking and autopilot. 

Segmenting the band also means that the FCC and Department of Transportation can cease testing now-irrelevant co-channel interference scenarios and focus on next steps to foster widespread Wi-Fi deployment in the lower 45 megahertz and innovative automotive safety services in the top 30 megahertz.  This band-split approach is the best way to support the deployment of the latest automotive safety technologies and meet the need for new unlicensed wireless broadband spectrum to support critical communications at hospitals, ports, railyards, airports, homes, and offices. 

The FCC should rapidly proceed with its NPRM on the 5.9 GHz band to ensure this band is allocated to the best use and next-generation technologies are made available for both consumers and automotive safety as soon as possible. 

Respectfully submitted, 

Thomas A. Schatz, President
Citizens Against Government Waste 

Bartlett Cleland, President
Innovation Economy Institute 

Andrew Langer, President
Institute for Freedom 

Ian Adams, Vice President for Policy

Phil Kerpen, President
American Commitment 

Tom Giovanetti, President
Institute for Policy Innovation 

Seton Motley, President
Less Government 

Charles Sauer, President
Market Institute 

Adam Brandon, President

David Williams, President
Taxpayers Protection Alliance 

Jeffrey Mazzella, President
Center for Individual Freedom 

Wayne Brough, President
Innovation Defense 

Peter Sepp, President
National Taxpayers Union 

Zach Graves, Head of Policy
Lincoln Network 

Michi Iljazi, Director of Government Affairs
American Conservative Union 

Lisa Nelson, CEO
American Legislative Exchange Council 

Michael Bowman, Vice President, Policy
ALEC Action 

Matthew Kandrach, President
Consumer Action for a Strong Economy                       

Grover Norquist, President
Americans for Tax Reform 

Katie McAuliffe, Executive Director
Digital Liberty                                                                       

Hance Haney, Senior Fellow
Director, Technology & Democracy Project
Discovery Institute      


[1] Federal Communications Commission, “In the Matter of Amendment of Parts 2 and 90 of the Commission’s Rules to Allocate the 5.850-5.925 GHz Band to the Mobile Service for Dedicated Short-Range Communications of Intelligent Transportation Services, ET Docket No. 98-95, RM-9096,” Adopted October 21, 1999,

[2] Diana Gehlhaus Carew, Nicholas Martin, Marjory S. Blumenthal, Philip Armour, Jesse Lastunen, “The Potential Economic Value of Unlicensed Spectrum in the 5.9 GHz Frequency Band,” RAND Corporation, November 29, 2018,