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'Widespread Support'

FCC Could Move Quickly to Approve C-V2X Waiver Requests

With the comment cycle complete, proponents of a December waiver request seeking permission to start using the 5.9 GHz band for cellular-vehicle-to-everything technology expect a relatively quick order from the FCC. Other requests have followed. But industry observers also note that FCC staff still must wade through all the comments, and the timing of agency decisions on such issues can be difficult to handicap.

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A prompt grant of the C-V2X waivers will advance the Biden administration’s efforts to maximize bipartisan infrastructure law funding, promote American competitiveness in emerging technologies and improve roadway safety,” emailed a lawyer who represents C-V2X stakeholders: “Given the overwhelming record support, all expectations are that the bureaus will grant the C-V2X waivers in the very near future.”

The FCC is hard to predict, but unless one of the commissioners has opposition, I could see them moving quickly especially to throw a bone to transportation after the 5.9 debacle,” said Jonathan Cannon, R Street fellow-technology and innovation and a former acting adviser to Commissioner Nathan Simington.

Seeking the original waiver Dec. 13 were Audi of America, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, the transportation departments in Utah and Virginia, Aaeon Technology, Harman International Industries, Panasonic North America and others.

The FCC reallocated the band, which had been set aside for dedicated short-range communications -- a technology that had never really took off -- in the waning days of the Trump administration, overriding Department of Transportation concerns (see 2011180043). The FCC allocated 45 MHz to Wi-Fi and 30 to C-2VX. Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and former Commissioner Mike O’Rielly worked together on the new approach to the band.

In August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the order, removing a potential point of hesitation for the FCC (see 2208120035). Reply comments on the December waiver request were filed this week, with most supporting approval (see 2208300034).

Coming off its big court win, the commission still has some items [to complete] to make the applicable portion of the 5.9 GHz band open and operational for unlicensed use,” O’Rielly emailed: “I imagine they would want to tie together these with any waivers sought … by the auto industry players, assuming those are justified.”

The commission was pretty sure it would win the D.C. Circuit case, so hopefully they've been working through the comments and can move quickly,” said ITIF Broadband and Spectrum Policy Director Joe Kane. “It’s also an opportunity for the FCC to show that the 5.9 GHz order hasn't stymied the progress of intelligent transportation systems just because it didn't allow DSRC systems to have the whole band,” he said.

American Action Forum Technology and Innovation Policy Director Jeffrey Westling said he expects a quick decision. “The record shows some widespread support for granting the requests, and considering the negative narratives that built during the challenge regarding the FCC's consideration of vehicle safety, it seems like an easy win for the commission to help promote vehicle safety in the 30 MHz allocated to C-V2X,” he said: “Considering that quick approval will also allow further innovation and deployment to happen immediately, there really isn't a reason to postpone the approvals if all the parties can comply with the waiver request."

Since the comments are in and the issue lies with putting up transceivers for vehicles before full testing … and it’s only in select locations,” the FCC will likely approve waivers or grants of special temporary authority “while testing is done,” emailed Richard Bernhardt, Wireless ISP Association national spectrum adviser.

The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) was the latest group to support granting waivers, in a filing posted Thursday in docket 19-138. “ITE Supports the quick deployment of C-V2X technologies, in advance of the adoption of final C-V2X operating rules, which will accelerate the advancement of these life-saving systems toward a quicker realization of the crash-prevention benefits,” the filing said: “As other commenters have noted, at this time we as an industry are not aware that the proposed uses would cause interference outside of the bands for the proposed use or cause other interference with any other vehicle operations.”