NCC Joins Allies in Support of the FCC’s Decision to Open the 5.9 GHz Band for Public Use

By Ryan Johnston


As more communities get online, many more consumers require the use of home routers to make use of high-speed connections. The increase in networking devices can make spectrum bands more congested. In 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) sought to make additional spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band available for improved indoor Wi-Fi connectivity. This spectrum was originally allocated in 1999 for use by Dedicated Short-Range Communications (“DSRC”). 

DSRC technology was intended to facilitate vehicle to vehicle and vehicle to infrastructure communications. Since this communications technology has yet to be widely deployed, the FCC adopted an order authorizing the 5.9 GHz spectrum band for both unlicensed and automotive use. However, there have been delays. The Department of Transportation has recently announced its intention to undertake a study designed to assert that the automotive industry should control the entire band. 

On March 29, 2022, Next Century Cities signed on to a letter with allies arguing that the FCC has already undertaken the proper administrative procedures to release this spectrum. All stakeholders, including the automotive industry and the Department of Transportation, had an opportunity to provide input in the FCC’s rulemaking proceeding. The letter also highlights the economic benefits that utilization of the 5.9 GHz band could offer. 

Full use of the 5.9 GHz band could strengthen Wi-Fi networks at a time when consumers rely heavily on high-speed connectivity at home. After 20 years of disuse, the FCC rightly decided to allow these crucial frequencies to be made available for public use. 

Read the letter in partnership with Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge, The American Library Association, Benton Institute for Broadband and Society, The Center for Rural Strategies, Citizens Against Government Waste, Digital Progress Institute, International Center for Law & Economics, The R Street Institute, and The Wireless Internet Services Providers Association here

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