Repost: Government de-licenses the use of very low frequency bands for the automotive industry

MUMBAI: The government has de-licensed certain very low-frequency bands for the automotive industry, a decision that could help in making connected and safer vehicles in a country where more than 1.4 lakh people die every year in road accidents.

Car makers can use this frequency through a radar-based system and offer advanced driver assistance features like blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning.

These features are already available in advanced markets. According to a notification dated September 16, issued by the wireless planning and coordination wing of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, the government has de-licenced use of devices or wireless microphones in the frequency bands of 36-38 MHz, 433-434.79 MHz, 302-351 kHz and 76-77 GHz.

The move will not only help car manufacturers to improve the safety features of their projects in India, but also boost exports from the country to Europe, Japan and the US, where these features are standard. The likes of Ford, Volkswagen, Hyundai and Nissan export 30-50% of the cars they produce in India, including to Europe.

In the absence of low-power frequencies, car makers in India could not test or install these safety features in cars meant for exports, people in the know said. In fact, some luxury-car makers had to spend money on de-activating those safety features in India. The frequency band was released after continuous dialogues among the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers Association (SIAM), car maker Maruti Suzuki, component manufacturer Bosch and the ministry over six to 12 months. The ministry de-licenced the band after all its concerns were addressed by the automakers.

“This will enable us to capture export opportunities, particularly in advanced markets,” a Maruti spokesperson said. “This is truly using technology as an enabler for ‘Make in India for the World’.

The entire Indian auto industry stands to benefit from this move.” Maruti, which was pushing for releasing the frequency, should be the biggest beneficiary as it intends to use the bands for the testing and installation of Autonomous Emergency Braking System (AEBS) in its upcoming premium hatchback Baleno, which will be exported to Europe and Japan.

AEBS is a low-power radar-based system which detects obstacles and applies brake in emergency situations. Fitment of AEBS in passenger cars will be a required feature for better rating in the European New Car Assessment Programme and it is difficult to sell a car in that market without this system. It uses short-distance (160 m), low-power (55 dBm max) radar operating in the 76-77 GHz band.

The original article appeared in the Economic Times and is written by Ketan Thakkar and Maulik Vyas. It is available here.

The purpose of this article is to show that the frequency band 433 – 434.79 MHz is open now. This is the band used by Medicare Nurse Call Systems too.

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