AT&T and Verizon, two major US wireless carriers, have agreed to delay the launch of their new 5G service at some airports. The C-band service, which provides faster speeds and more coverage, was supposed to go live tomorrow.
However, airlines in the United States have pressed for a postponement, claiming that the signals could interfere with aircraft navigation systems.
As a result of the pressure to limit their rollout, the telecoms companies expressed their dissatisfaction.
AT&T stated the rollout would be delayed “temporarily” at a “limited number of towers around select airport runways.” It went on to say that regulators had had “two years” to prepare for the launch of 5G service.
“We are frustrated by the Federal Aviation Administration’s failure to achieve what nearly 40 countries have done,” AT&T said in a statement, “which is to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services.”
“With the temporary exception of this limited number of towers, we are launching our sophisticated 5G services everywhere else as anticipated.”
In addition, Verizon stated that it had “voluntarily opted to limit our 5G network around airports.”
The White House and aviation regulators scrambled to find a solution to a problem that airlines have warned may create enormous disruption, causing them to halt some of their fleets and cancel flights.
President Joe Biden commended Verizon and AT&T in a statement for agreeing to the postponement, which he claimed would only affect around 10% of wireless tower placements.
“This agreement protects flight safety, allows aviation operations to continue without significant disruption, and will provide millions of Americans with more high-speed internet options,” he said, adding that officials would continue talks to find a “permanent, workable solution around these key airports.”
Phone companies have invested tens of billions of dollars upgrading their networks in order to implement 5G technology, which provides significantly faster internet speeds and increased connectivity.
Airlines, on the other hand, are concerned that C-band 5G transmissions will interfere with plane navigation systems, particularly those employed in bad weather. Airbus and Boeing, two major plane makers, have also expressed their concerns.
The ten largest US airlines recently wrote to regulators requesting that 5G transmissions be banned from “about two miles of airport runways at affected airports as determined by the FAA on January 19, 2022.”
“This will allow 5G to be deployed without causing harm to the aviation industry, the general public, the supply chain, vaccine distribution, our workforce, or the larger economy.”
“We also request that the FAA identify those base stations closest to critical airport runways that require rapid attention in order to ensure safety and avoid interruption,” they continued.
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- The top phone companies in the United States have agreed to postpone the introduction of 5G.
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Because of the aviation concerns, there have already been many delays, with launch dates in December and earlier this month also being pushed back. Airlines, according to wireless industry groups, are exaggerating the risks.
Despite Tuesday’s agreement, some airlines, including Air India and Japan’s largest airline, ANA Holdings, have announced that some flights to the United States have been canceled due to possible 5G interference.
To say the least, the much-hyped rollout of 5G networks in the United States has been chaotic.
The rollout has been postponed twice, and now AT&T and Verizon have agreed to postpone the opening of some areas of the network near airports in response to mounting demand.
This occurred as a result of worries about aviation safety. Airlines would have had to operate under limits that they clearly found unbearable in order to alleviate those worries.
However, such safety concerns have been widely publicized for over a year. There was definitely time to develop a mitigation strategy, and other countries have done so successfully.
Why were US regulators, telecommunications companies, airlines, and airports unable to come up with a viable solution?
Telecom providers have been required in other nations to minimize 5G signals near airports by adopting actions such as pointing antennae away from control towers.
The FAA, which monitors aviation safety in the United States, announced on Sunday that “an estimated 45 percent of the US commercial fleet has been authorized to execute low-visibility landings at several of the airports where 5G C-band will be implemented.”
According to the FAA, “two radio altimeter models that are installed in a wide variety of Boeing and Airbus planes” have been certified.
“Flights at some airports may still be disrupted, even with these additional approvals,” the agency added.
“The FAA is also working with manufacturers to figure out how radar altimeter data is used in other flight control systems. If the weather is expected at a destination where 5G interference is possible, passengers should verify with their airlines.”
However, when US companies spent billions on 5G infrastructure, they did not anticipate such restrictions, according to Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a professor of transportation economics at George Washington University and a former deputy assistant secretary at the US Department of Transportation.
“They want to get the greatest bang for their buck,” she explained. “What they should have been told ahead of time is that they wouldn’t have full reign to use it because it could interfere with planes, but they weren’t told that.”
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