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EU Reserves Spectrum For 'Talking' Cars

Allowing embedded devices to tap into the 30-MHz spectrum of the 5.9-GHz band could potentially allow cars to communicate hazardous conditions and traffic to other vehicles.
In a bid to increase driver safety, the European Commission has agreed to reserve parts of the wireless spectrum that will be used to enable cars to "talk" to each other across the European Union.

The move sets aside 30-MHz spectrum of the 5.9-GHz band with the goal of enabling wireless communication between cars and other vehicles. Additionally, roadside infrastructure such as warning signs potentially will be able to talk to cars, the commission said.

The commission said that more than 42,000 Europeans died in road accidents in 2006, and more than 1.6 million were injured. One potential example of how this move can curb those figures is if a car detects a slippery patch on a road, a warning could be sent to all cars nearby.

Additionally, if a traffic management center needs to warn drivers of a sudden road closure, it would be able to send the information to a transmitter along the affected route, which then would pass it on to compatible vehicles that drive by. The EC noted that there are some 7,500 kilometers (4,660 miles) of traffic jams on the EU's roads every day.

"Today's Commission decision is a decisive step towards meeting the European goal of reducing road accidents," said Viviane Reding, the European Union's telecoms commissioner, in a statement. "Getting critical messages through quickly and accurately is a must for road safety."

Beyond safety reasons, the move could also save money, as the commission said the costs caused by traffic congestion are well into the billions.

Satellite navigation units from Dash Navigation, TomTom, and others can already provide motorists with real-time traffic information, as can some cellular navigation services. But this move ensures that a standard system can be developed EU-wide, the commission said.