Wi-Fi Expansion Interferes Directly with Connected Car Communication Systems

February 13, 2013, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

The auto industry and FCC haven’t had any common problems since inception. But now, the scenario has changed. The Wi-Fi expansion plans put forward by FCC might interfere with the communication waves of the connected cars and this might prove very costly.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has announced that they are moving forward with a plan to clear 195 MHz of spectrum in the 5 GHz band for Wi-Fi use.

But the frequencies in the neighborhood of the 5.9 GHz are already reserved by the government for future vehicle-to-vehicle communications networks. These concerns were detailed by major automakers in a letter to the FCC.


The contents of the letter convey no serious reaction from the auto-giants against the Wi-Fi expansion. The letter urges the FCC to perform ‘due diligence’ on the issue of possible interference, and that a final decision on the Wi-Fi expansion come after a US Department of Transportation decision on implementing a connected vehicle network.

In addition to automakers such as Volvo, Chrysler, and Hyundai-Kia, the letter was signed by various researchers and even government officials, such as state transportation officials in Texas, Washington state, Michigan, and California.

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) has also said the potential interference must be studied closely.

A properly allocated sharing system is a good thing to prevent interference between cars on the roads and Wi-Fi users in buildings, particularly as 5GHz airwaves don’t travel as far as the ones in the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band, or the ones typically used for cellular networks.

Given the two-year timeline for the NTIA to do research and report back to the FCC, there’s little reason to think anything harmful will happen to the future smart car networks, but the process may impact how the Wi-Fi expansion is implemented.

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