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FCC chairman Pai proposes splitting automakers' V2V wireless frequency for Wi-Fi

The plan would seek to ease congestion on the increasingly packed 2.4 and 5.0 GHz bands.

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to borrow some of the wireless spectrum set aside for V2V to use for Wi-Fi.

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The wireless spectrum is a complicated thing. It's necessary for safety and consistency to separate different kinds of devices into different parts of the spectrum. This is why, for example, your home router operates at either 2.4 gigahertz or 5 GHz and no other frequency.

Unfortunately, the spectrum is a finite thing, and as we get more and more wireless devices all using those same frequencies, things get slower and service can become less reliable. That's a big part of why Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has announced a plan to split up a chunk of the spectrum that was designated for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication and use it for Wi-Fi, according to a report published Wednesday by Reuters.

The 5.9 GHz band was designated for use by automakers way back in 1999 to develop means for cars to talk to one another. This V2V communication would, in theory, make cars safer, but vehicle manufacturers have largely ignored the technology and so the valuable piece of the spectrum lies mostly dormant.

What does this mean for you as a consumer? Well, if you're a prodigious user of wireless devices, it's probably a good thing. Once device manufacturers are able to build compatibility with the 5.9 GHz band into things like phones and routers, congestion on the other two bands will likely ease.

If you're shopping for a smarter, connected car with V2V capability, your already interminable wait likely just got longer.

Chairman Pai's proposal thankfully doesn't suggest reallocating the entire frequency to Wi-Fi, just part of it, and the FCC has to vote on whether to accept the proposal and take it to the next regulatory step. This initial vote is scheduled for December 12.

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