FCC Proposes Reallocation of 5.9 GHz Band for Unlicensed Use

FCC Proposes Reallocation of 5.9 GHz Band for Unlicensed Use

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

ET Docket No. 19-138


On December 12, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM“) proposing to reallocate portions of the 5.9 GHz band from strictly vehicle-related communications to now dedicating spectrum to both unlicensed uses and transportation and vehicular technology.  Specifically, the NPRM proposes to repurpose the lower 45 MHz of the band (5.850-5.895 GHz) for unlicensed uses such as Wi-Fi and maintain the upper 30 MHz (5.895-5.925 GHz) dedicated to vehicle-safety technologies.

The 5.9 GHz band is currently designated to Dedicated Short Range Communications (“DSRC”) service to allow vehicle-related communications.  The Commission is seeking comment on its proposal to revise its rules in part because DSRC never reached the widespread deployment within cars that was projected 20 years ago when the Commission decided to allocate all 75 MHz of the band to DSRC.  The automotive industry has since seen other technologies, such as cellular vehicle-to-everything (“C-V2X”) technology, flourish in the ways that were envisioned for DSRC.  As a result, the Commission also proposes to reserve 20 MHz of the upper 30 MHz of the band (5.905-5.925 GHz) specifically for C-V2X technologies and seeks comment on whether the remaining 10 MHz (5.895-5.905 GHz) should be reallocated to C-V2X or kept dedicated to DSRC.

In the NPRM, the Commission seeks to balance the need for transportation-related communications with the increased demand for unlicensed operations, and mid-band spectrum for 5G deployments.  The Commission notes that it has received pressure to free up the 5.9 GHz band because adjacent spectrum within the 5 GHz band is currently used for unlicensed operations and in 2018, the Commission proposed to allow unlicensed use on a shared basis in the 6 GHz band.

Interested parties may file comments within 30 days after date of publication in the Federal Register, which has not yet occurred. Reply comments must be filed within 60 days after date of publication in the Federal Register.  If you have any questions about the NPRMor wish to file comments in the proceeding, please contact Dee Herman at  [email protected] or Molly O’Conor at [email protected].