Nov 14, 2018

Self-driving cars expand the fight over airwaves

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Hungry for more Wi-Fi capacity, the telecom industry is looking to snatch control of underutilized airwaves reserved for the auto industry. But this is coming just as carmakers begin to make progress on developing and adopting technologies for connected and autonomous cars that currently rely on that spectrum.

The big picture: Tech and telecom companies have been fighting for years over spectrum to support exploding demand for mobile services and smartphones. Automakers have had exclusive access to a band of spectrum for almost 20 years but haven't done much with it, prompting telecom providers to argue, "Use it or lose it."

The FCC is looking at a third possibility — share it.

The dilemma: Some safety advocates and automakers worry that commercial Wi-Fi will interfere with vehicle-to-vehicle communications in an emergency.

"The last thing you want is to be approaching an intersection and your kids are streaming a video in the back seat and a car is about to run a red light but you don’t get the safety message."
— James Barbaresso, SVP of intelligent transportation systems, at infrastructure advisory firm HNTB

What's happening: The Federal Communications Commission is assessing whether cars and Wi-Fi services can safely share the same frequency.

  • The agency just completed the first phase of a study that found Wi-Fi can operate in the 5.9 GHz band set aside for vehicle communication without interference.
  • "Not so fast," says the U.S. Department of Transportation, which insists that all 3 test phases be completed before making any decisions.
  • Meanwhile, the advent of new cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technology — based on improved cellular networks — is muddying the debate over spectrum-sharing.

The background: In 1999, the FCC set aside part of the communications spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band for the development of dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) that would allow vehicles to communicate with each other and with devices planted alongside roads.

  • But DSRC technology has been slow to develop, and only now is beginning to be deployed.
  • Toyota, Lexus and Cadillac models will be equipped with DSRC by 2021 and dozens of states are installing the roadside units.
"OEMs have been sinking tons of money into DSRC applications to demonstrate this would work. They want to see a return on their investment."
— James Barbaresso

Meanwhile, a coalition of other automakers and telecom operators are pushing instead for the fast rollout of C-V2X technology.

  • Because C-V2X leverages cellular networks, it won’t require a massive deployment of roadside units.
  • Supporters say consumers are familiar with cellular service from their mobile phone service and C-V2X will one day migrate to even faster 5G technology.

What to watch: The FCC has already signaled the debate may have shifted away from spectrum-sharing and that further tests might be unnecessary, suggesting a cellular approach will be the winner. Europe is leaning toward DSRCbut the progress of C-V2X in China may prove decisive, per the World Economic Forum's Eric Jillard.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Infections number tops 140,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now infected over 142,000 people in the U.S. — more than any other country in the world, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: COVID-19 had killed over 2,400 people in the U.S. by Sunday night. That's far fewer than in Italy, where over 10,000 people have died — accounting for a third of the global death toll. The number of people who've recovered from the virus in the U.S. exceeded 2,600 Sunday evening.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 15 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 721,584 — Total deaths: 33,958 — Total recoveries: 149,122.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 142,106 — Total deaths: 2,479 — Total recoveries: 2,686.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump says his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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World coronavirus updates: Cases surge past 720,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now more than 720,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 33,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health