The head of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) called for a formal review of the 5.9GHz band, arguing the airwaves, which are currently reserved for automakers, might be put to better use as the country faces a mid-band spectrum crunch.

Speaking at Wi-Fi World Congress USA, FCC chairman Ajit Pai noted the regulator had set aside 75MHz of spectrum in the band in 1999 for Dedicated Short Range Communications, which allow vehicles to communicate with one another.

But with many in the automotive industry now backing the cellular Vehicle to Everything (C-V2X) standard, Pai said the time has come to re-examine the allocation.

“This valuable mid-band spectrum is largely lying fallow and it has been so for two decades now, as the internet has gone from dial-up modems to gigabit Wi-Fi…It is time to launch a comprehensive review of the future of the 5.9GHz band, make a sober assessment of the facts and then make a timely decision on the best way forward.”

Pai said potential choices for the future of the band include keeping it reserved for C-V2X or other automotive technologies; splitting the band between automotive and unlicensed use; or allocating the entire 75MHz for unlicensed use.

As other countries lead their wireless efforts with mid-band spectrum, the US has faced criticism for focusing on mmWave at the expense of other frequencies. Though the FCC has several initiatives underway to open airwaves at 2.5GHz; 3.5GHz; 3.7GHz to 4.2GHz; and 6GHz, auctions in those bands aren’t expected to begin until at least 2020.

At a recent FCC meeting, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel urged the body to “flip its wireless priorities and pivot to mid-band spectrum” or risk losing its influence on the global wireless supply chain.