C-V2X rule should be finalized by FCC, HARMAN says

An average of 6 million car accidents occur on U.S. roads each year. Of those, 43,000 are tragically fatal, but all will create financial, emotional and physical hardship for those involved. 

Society pays a substantial toll for these accidents. Costs related to motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. reached $500 billion  in 2021, according to the National Safety Council. That’s the entire budget of the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act, or 2 times the combined market cap of Tesla, GM, and Ford. 

The vast majority of these accidents are due to preventable mistakes by drivers. Nine out of the top ten most common causes of car accidents are related to human error, and with a fully automated transportation utopia still a distant vision, the question becomes, what can be done about this challenge today? 

What if the car could instantly communicate with its surroundings such as other vehicles, infrastructure, pedestrians, and the cloud, sensing everything a driver can’t? Today, companies like HARMAN and Samsung are deploying this type of technology– known as cellular-vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X)– to enhance vehicle safety, and dramatically reduce crashes and fatalities for drivers.

However, unlike the EU or China, the U.S. does not have national level mandates or a policy pathway for enabling mass deployment of C-V2X. This puts the U.S. a step behind on the global stage and creates market and investor uncertainty. 

China is home to the world’s largest automotive market, and today, automakers are pre-installing C-V2X in new cars. China expects 50 percent of new cars manufactured to have C-V2X pre-installed by 2025. The U.S. must avoid a scenario in which it falls behind in a critical technology race that will drive roadway safety, and more broadly, be a cornerstone of the digital economy. C-V2X will become standard automotive technology with or without the U.S., and so the U.S. federal government must act to retake the leadership role.

The good news is that lawmakers and regulators are starting to take action. In April, the FCC announced that a select few organizations, including HARMAN International, and other automotive companies like Audi, Ford and Jaguar Land Rover, as well as certain State Departments of Transportation, the ability to operate roadside and on-board C-V2X technologies within the 5.9 GHz band in the United States. This decision paves the way for rapid deployment of this technology at a key moment when the U.S. is investing hundreds of billions into smart and connected transportation and mobility projects nation-wide. 

To further progress ever more, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) recently held a V2X Summit in which it committed to the development of a Nationwide V2X Deployment Plan, lending crucial leadership to the deployment of these technologies.

What does this mean for the average American? The technology, if widely used in U.S. vehicles and roadways, could prevent at least 600,000 crashes annually, government studies show. In addition to the clear safety benefits, C-V2X is an essential innovation that will help boost autonomous and connected driving to its full potential.  

The goal is for the consumer to experience in-vehicle C-V2X technologies as a complement to sensor abilities to enable fully autonomous driving. To be truly successful though, connected experiences must be thoughtfully translated and engineered for safety, durability, and general effectiveness within an automotive environment. As a leader in the intelligent mobility area, HARMAN’s C-V2X technology enables a safer and more connected world. 

Even with all this momentum, there is still more that can be done. The FCC should finalize C-V2X rulemaking and provide a clear path forward for the industry. These critical safety solutions will benefit drivers and vulnerable roadway users of all types across the U.S.. A national policy on C-V2X deployment will provide certainty and foster continued public-private and cross-industry collaboration, accelerated 5G network deployment, the scaling of "smart” infrastructure investment, and increased regional trials and pilot projects. Our team at HARMAN is thrilled to be working with our industry and government partners to deploy these and many other life-saving technologies in our shared mission to create safer streets for all.

Tom Mooney is the Head of Government Affairs for HARMAN International.