A group of bipartisan legislators led by Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., sent a letter on Jan. 10 to Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai to thank him for his December 2019 vote to “modernize the 5.9 GHz band.”

Reps. McNerney, Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., Billy Long, D-Mo., and John Shimkus, R-Ill., praised Pai and FCC Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mike O’Rielly for revamping the rules regulating the 5.9GHz band. They said that the band, which was originally set aside in 1999 for vehicle-related Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC), “has not lived up to its expectations, resulting in much of the [band] to go largely unused.” They said the allocation of this spectrum must be revisited to “ensure it is being put to the most efficient use.”

The proposal – which Pai led FCC approval of in December 2019 – would split the band, with the lower 45 MHz going to unlicensed uses and upper 30 MHz being dedicated to automotive safety. The legislators said that this would allow the spectrum to continue to be used as originally intended, while also “supporting the growing demand for Wi-Fi and 5G services across the nation.”

The Jan. 10 letter is a follow up to a June 19, 2019, letter that urged Pai to consider the rule change that he voted for earlier this month.

The lawmakers noted that while the December FCC action is a step in the right direction, “there are still steps that should be taken to make more unlicensed spectrum available.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.