US: automakers and tech companies fight over Wi-Fi band image

As the cars in our life become increasingly more technological, an interesting feud has come to life – radio bands have become a subject of dispute between tech companies who want more Wi-Fi space for Web data or video and carmakers, who argue the waves should be used safety systems.

Lawmakers and regulators in Washington have been under pressure from the two lobby groups, which among them last year spent a total of almost $200 million – the sides being led by GM and Comcast Corporation. Now, US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said this month the issue would be resolved by his department before President Barack Obama finishes his term.

“The auto industry, like every other incumbent, is trying to hold onto all the spectrum it can because it’s valuable, and they want to keep all their options open,” said Michael Calabrese, director of the Wireless Future Project at the Washington-based policy group New America Foundation.

“There needs to be more analysis before anybody gets into that spectrum,” said Michael Robinson, GM’s vice president of sustainability and global regulatory affairs. “A lot more research has to be done to assure us all we’re not going to have interference. We don’t what to jeopardize that.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates, as much as 80 % of the circa 5 million crashes in the US could be ultimately avoided by the widespread use of car to car communication.

While automakers say they are very close to deploying technology that could save as many lives as seatbelts, the technology companies say such systems are of a long shot into the future, and push for the Federal Communications Commission to at least allow them to share the spectrum reserved for automakers 15 years ago as they need to satisfy the consumer’s growing need for mobile data and video in the car.

Via Bloomberg