House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazioBiden’s infrastructure plan builds a stronger foundation for seniors Hillicon Valley: DOJ to review cyber challenges | Gaetz, House Republicans want to end funding for postal service surveillance | TikTok gets new CEO On The Trail: Census data kicks off the biggest redistricting fight in American history MORE (D-Ore.) on Wednesday sharply criticized the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for relocating spectrum in a way that critics have said could hurt the development of autonomous vehicles.
“We’ve got problems with the Federal Communications Commission, and they are impinging upon the bandwidth that we need for vehicle to vehicle communication,” DeFazio told The Hill’s Steve Clemons during a virtual event.
DeFazio’s comments came after the FCC last year split the 5.9 GHz band, previously reserved for vehicle safety communications, between unlicensed spectrum operations, such as WiFi for internet connected devices, and an advanced automobile safety technology.
The bandwidth had previously been reserved since 1999 for communication between vehicles, and was an essential part of the development of self-driving cars.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over the FCC, with DeFazio noting that while he had tried to address the issue, his panel does not have oversight of this issue.
“I’ve opposed this bitterly, they are still moving ahead with it. I’ve tried to get an appropriations rider, I’ve tried to get…the committee of jurisdiction to take strong action. They haven’t,” DeFazio said, noting that former Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine ChaoThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Tax March – US vaccine effort takes hit with Johnson & Johnson pause Gingrich on Trump-McConnell feud: GOP ‘better off’ focusing on Democrats Trump rips McConnell in speech to Republicans MORE had “objected to what they were doing.”
“They are still plowing ahead, so that is a potential setback and a potential problem,” DeFazio said at The Hill’s “Future of Mobility Summit,” sponsored by Siemens.
DeFazio sent a letter to FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica RosenworcelJessica RosenworcelBiden needs to counter Russia and China to secure our digital future To build lasting digital equity, look to communities Officials discuss proposals for fixing deep disparities in education digital divide MORE in March expressing his “continued strong opposition” to the agency’s decision to split the 5.9 GHz band, which he also labeled the “Safety Band.”
“Since 1999, the 5.9 GHz band has been reserved for dedicated short-range communications to enable vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications,” DeFazio wrote. “V2X communications and the technologies they will enable—namely connected vehicles—will make our transportation networks smarter, more efficient, and, most importantly, safer.”
“Unfortunately, in its actions to date, the FCC appears more concerned with faster Wi-Fi than transportation safety,” he added.
The FCC approved the relocation of spectrum with all five commissioners either agreeing or concurring in November. Former FCC Chairman Ajit PaiAjit PaiTwo telemarketers fined record 5M for robocalls How ‘zonecasting’ could harm minority neighborhoods Huawei wants appeals court to overturn FCC’s national security ban MORE wrote in a statement at the time that less than 1 percent of vehicles on U.S. roads used the spectrum for short-range communications, with automated vehicles instead used V2X communications while WiFi needs had massively increased.
“Life is too short for us to make the mistake of continuing to allow valuable spectrum to lay fallow because of the false promise of a technology that has been stuck in the starting blocks for too many years,” Pai wrote. “We owe it to American consumers to put this spectrum to work for them and to quickly expand the capacity of unlicensed services and modernize transportation safety technology.”
The issue of self-driving cars has been a hotly debated topic on Capitol Hill over the past few years, particularly as states begin to implement their own regulations around the testing and development of autonomous vehicles in the absence of nationwide rules.
The House approved legislation in 2018 to create standards for testing and deployment of these vehicles, but the GOP-controlled Senate failed to take up similar legislation.
Sens. Gary PetersGary PetersStudents for Trump co-founder gets over a year in prison for posing as lawyer Hillicon Valley: DOJ to review cyber challenges | Gaetz, House Republicans want to end funding for postal service surveillance | TikTok gets new CEO Senators introduce bipartisan bill to protect personal travel data MORE (D-Mich.) and John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneBiden-McConnell cold war unlikely to end at White House Top female GOP senator compares Cheney ousting to ‘cancel culture’ GOP braces for wild week with momentous vote MORE (R-S.D.) have repeatedly attempted to reintroduce legislation in the years since, with Thune saying Wednesday he would attempt to add legislation to the Endless Frontiers Act when it comes to the Senate floor for a vote.
“The time is now to address this issue, and we shouldn’t let that opportunity slip away,” Thune said during a Senate Commerce Committee markup of the Endless Frontiers Act.