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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Promising technology that aims to prevent cars from crashing would be "severely impaired" by interference from a WiFi hotspot, says Ford Motor Co., which is urging the Federal Communications Commission not to reallocate a chunk of radio spectrum reserved for vehicle safety.

Why it matters: Interference from a WiFi signal that might keep children occupied with video games in the back seat could potentially delay the delivery of a basic safety message to their parent's car at precisely the moment it's needed.

The big picture: In order to meet growing demand for WiFi service, the FCC wants to reallocate a portion of the 5.9 GHz band set aside in 1999 for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication.

  • Its proposal would take 45 of the 75 MHz frequencies of so-called "safety spectrum" for WiFi, leaving 30 MHz for connected cars.
  • That 30 MHz would be further divided between an older V2V technology called dedicated short range communication (DSRC) that a few automakers are using, and newer cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X), which Ford and others support.

What's happening: In comments filed Monday on the FCC's proposed rule-making, Ford included test results of real-world scenarios to argue against the spectrum-sharing.

  • Ford selected an accident-prone intersection in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and then ran field and lab tests to show what effect a WiFi device operating on the contested frequencies would have on the car's ability to receive safety-critical messages.

What they found: WiFi interference caused an "unacceptable outage of critical basic safety message communications preventing the C-V2X system from performing as intended."

  • "The fact of the matter is there’s just a lot of leakage outside the bands they’re operating in," Don Butler, Ford's executive director for connected vehicles and services, told reporters.
  • Ford said the FCC should also ensure there's enough buffer in the spectrum to support future autonomous vehicles and to eventually transition to 5G technology.

Editor's note: This piece was clarified to reflect that all of the 5.9 GHz band is in use for auto safety.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: McConnell temporarily halts in-person lunches for GOP caucus.
  3. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in DecemberAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  4. Education: U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists.
  5. Cities: Surge in cases forces San Francisco to impose curfew — Los Angeles County issues stay-at-home order, limits gatherings.
  6. Sports: NFL bans in-person team activities Monday, Tuesday due to COVID-19 surge — NBA announces new coronavirus protocols.
  7. World: London police arrest more than 150 during anti-lockdown protests — Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.

Tony Hsieh, longtime Zappos CEO, dies at 46

Tony Hsieh. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic

Tony Hsieh, the longtime ex-chief executive of Zappos, died on Friday after being injured in a house fire, his lawyer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He was 46.

The big picture: Hsieh was known for his unique approach to management, and following the 2008 recession his ongoing investment and efforts to revitalize the downtown Las Vegas area.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
15 hours ago - Economy & Business

The unicorn stampede is coming

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Airbnb and DoorDash plan to go public in the next few weeks, capping off a very busy year for IPOs.

What's next: You ain't seen nothing yet.

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