U.S. telecoms regulator to vote to split key spectrum block between autos, Wi-Fi

The FCC will vote to finalize a plan announced last year to divide a block of the 5.9 GHz spectrum band that was reserved in 1999 for automakers to develop technology to allow vehicles to talk to each other, but has so far gone largely unused.

Automakers have opposed the split on safety grounds, while many internet providers say the spectrum is essential to support growing wireless use.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said on Tuesday that “making more spectrum available for Wi-Fi is critical to meeting America’s growing connectivity needs.”

The FCC gave initial approval to the plan in December in a 5-0 vote. U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao previously warned the FCC decision could result in “thousands more deaths annually on road and millions more injuries than would be the case otherwise.”