Fight Over Wifi Has Auto Makers and Cable Providers at Odds

Wifi signals reserved for car companies have auto makers and cable providers at odds. The auto makers want to use these waves to allow for vehicle communication between cars, lights, and the roads to make traffic move more smoothly, but the cable and technology industries argue that more spectrum is needed for wifi services and channels will soon become congested.

A recent meeting with the FCC shows that the cable & technology companies are pining for more space for Wifi service.

The car companies are arguing that the way they use the airwaves will make traffic on the road flow better and smoother — and the waves are reserves for them, after all.

Non-automotive companies interested in the release of the airwaves want the FCC to release 35% of the spectrum for uses like Wifi connections. The car companies are not giving it up voluntarily and say this will interfere with connector car systems.

Cable providers worry that demand is exceeding available Wi-fi access and they need more 5 GHz band access to meet this demand.

Technology makers have reason to be concerned about the use of these airwaves — slower connections will ultimately equate to less access for users.

The spectrum in question is a band used in the automotive industry since 1999. It is a frequency not useful for cellphones as it is only meant for short-range type communications. Although it was assigned for automotive use, the FCC were actually the ones who presented the idea about sharing the spectrum with Wifi.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communications have been in the works for many years. These plans are in addition to the services currently in play that help cars connect to the internet through the use of cellular technology/cellular providers.

Many are arguing that vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology is life saving and connected cars could reduce non-DUI related accident fatalities by 80%, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A ruling by the NHTSA could actually mandate the use of this technology — this is expected to come in before the end of 2013.

The cable companies think multiple industries could use the extra spectrum without interfering with one-another. They think the lower portion of the band should be made available for Wifi use since the automakers are not using it currently.

It’s these same lower parts of the band that are going to be used for connected vehicle technology — and that’s why the automakers are fighting so hard to keep them. They cite that it’s a matter of safety over gadget use.

It will ultimately be up to the FCC to decide the fate of the airwaves in question — the FCC oversees the spectrum and how it is used. The only problem is, the government shutdown has plans for the follow up hearing on hold — it was at this meeting that everyone was expecting a solution.

When the government shutdown is over, the FCC will get back making their decision, and they have a lot to consider before making the final word.

Author Jason Lancaster agrees that vehicle-to-vehicle communication technologies are a good idea. He works with Honda Parts Online, a site that sells OEM Honda parts at discount prices. Check out the site here.