U.S. Wi-Fi Innovation Act Seeks More Airwaves Alongside Smart Cars


Legislation requiring regulators to quickly test how shared radio frequencies could exist alongside those used for communications between smart cars was recently revived by two U.S. senators, in an attempt to allocate more airwaves to public Wi-Fi.

U.S. Senators Cory Brooker, a New Jersey Democrat, and Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, are re-introducing a piece of legislation that aims to direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to study how more spectrum can be freed up for public use without interfering with connected vehicles.

The Wi-Fi Innovation Act was originally visited last year. The bill is supported by cable and wireless industries and various makers of high-tech equipment, which are hoping to make their devices more usable in public places.

“The result will transform 75 megahertz of currently moribund and lightly used spectrum into a powerhouse for American broadband,” wrote Comcast’s Regulatory Policy Vice President David Don about the bill in 2014.

This bill remains a concern for the automotive community, who have used the airwaves in question to develop safety systems allowing cars to communicate with each other and elements around them. They believe any interference with this system could potentially pose a safety risk.

“‘Talking cars’ that avoid crashes and reduce traffic congestion and pollution are being deployed today as tests continue,” the groups wrote. “That is why we ask for you to oppose any legislation, such as the Wi-Fi Innovation Act, that could set the program back and risk the implementation of this life saving technology and safety system.”

The bill was first introduced last June but was never voted on. It remains an example of bipartisanship amongst American lawmakers who hope to benefit the general public, as well as the wireless and cable industries. Whether or not this piece of legislation makes progress will determine how the FCC handles the present issue of expanding the use of the “upper 5 gigahertz band of spectrum” in question.