Intelligent Transportation System Services Approved at 5.9 GHz

The FCC has allocated spectrum around 5.9 GHz for Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) in the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Radio Service. Several systems have been proposed for sending information to automobiles in transit. Safety Cast proposed using the FM broadcast band to transmit safety and emergency information to all vehicles, but concerns about interference to existing FM broadcast stations killed that idea. ARDIS, which sends low speed (up to 19.2 kbps) data over FM radio subcarriers, is currently in use and supported by many newer car radios. Other systems such as NorthStar use existing cell phone or data systems to handle emergency calls from vehicles. All of these systems, however, have limitations. ARDIS does not have two-way capability. The existing two-way systems depend on commercial infrastructure that may not be available or suitable for public safety use.

The 5.850-5.926 GHz band will be available to both public safety and non-public safety users for a wide range of applications and will be able to transfer information between vehicles traveling at high speeds and roadside units or other vehicles. Some of the applications the FCC sees for the service include:

* Intersection collision avoidance;
* Work zone warnings;
* Road condition warnings;
* Electronic toll collection;
* Electronic payment for gas, fast food, or parking

The FCC News Release announcing the Commission's action said, "ITS applications are expected to improve traveler safety, decrease traffic congestion, reduce air pollution, and conserve vital fossil fuels."

Additional details on licensing, frequency coordination and standards for DSRC can be found in the News Release. The full text of the Order establishing the service has not been released.