A vote by the Federal Communications Commission last week has the Michigan Department of Transportation mad. Really mad.

"On Nov. 18, the FCC unanimously voted to value streaming video entertainment above human life," - Debra Bezzina, managing director of the Center for Connected and Automated Transportation at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) via MDOT

First, some background:.

According to M-DOT, last Wednesday, the five FCC members voted unanimously to free up more spectrum for Wi-Fi. This in spite of strong protests from all 50 state transportation departments, along with many university research institutions, and others. That vote allows for Wi-Fi usage in what's known as the 5.9 GHz band of spectrum. M-DOT says that for more than 20 years, that part of the  spectrum has been set aside for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications using Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) technology.

The FCC side of the argument is this:

An FCC statement read: “Although the Commission designated DSRC as the technology standard for ITS services over 20 years ago, DSRC has not been meaningfully deployed, and this critical mid-band spectrum has largely been unused for decades. Today’s action therefore begins the transition away from DSRC services – which are incompatible with C-V2X – to hasten the actual deployment of ITS services that will improve automotive safety. “The new rules also will improve automotive safety by reserving the upper 30 megahertz of the band for Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) services and designating C-V2X as the technology standard for safety-related transportation and vehicular communications.”- FCC statement

The upper part of the specific spectrum remains, but ITS America president and CEO Shailen Bhatt is quoted, disagreeing with the FCC: “Chairman Pai’s statement is incorrect – it is corporate interests that are cheering the reallocation of the safety spectrum away from the public interests...Today’s move will, in effect, likely render the entire band useless for safety.

With the United States moving rapidly towards driver-less cars, trucks and even semis, you know this issue seems to be headed for court and could be tied up for years. Time will tell if it really is a serious safety issue.

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