AT&T And Verizon Pause 5G Rollout Near US Airports As They Will Work With Federal Agencies To Settle Issues

by Bhaswati Guha Majumder - Jan 19, 2022 05:59 PM +05:30 IST
AT&T And Verizon Pause 5G Rollout Near US Airports As They Will Work With Federal Agencies To Settle IssuesAT&T And Verizon
Snapshot
  • The decision came after the airline industry increased the stakes in a battle with AT&T and Verizon over plans to introduce 5G cellular service this week, warning that if the deployment occurs near major airports, thousands of flights might be cancelled or delayed.

In the United States after the nation's top airlines complained the 5G service would interfere with aircraft equipment and create massive flight interruptions, AT&T and Verizon have postponed a new wireless service near several airports that was set to launch this week.

Texas-based AT&T, which is the largest provider of mobile telephone services in the United States, announced on 18 January that it will postpone the installation of new cell towers near runways at select airports and would instead work with federal regulators to resolve the disagreement. In the case of New York’s Verizon, it said it will launch its new 5G network but the wireless company “voluntarily” decided to limit the network around airports.

Both the decisions come after the airline industry increased the stakes in a battle with AT&T and Verizon over plans to introduce 5G cellular service this week, warning that if the deployment occurs near major airports, thousands of flights might be cancelled or delayed.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which oversees wireless frequency auctions, ruled that C-Band may be utilised securely near airports. To address any safety concerns, the FCC established a buffer between the 5G band and the bandwidth used by flights in 2020. But Pete Buttigieg, the United States secretary of transportation and FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson, whose agency is in charge of aircraft safety, saw a potential problem.

They urged AT&T and Verizon last week to postpone deploying C-Band 5G near an unspecified number of "priority airports" until the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) performed additional research.

Buttigieg said: "We recognize the economic importance of expanding 5G, and we appreciate the wireless companies working with us to protect the flying public and the country’s supply chain. The complex U.S. airspace leads the world in safety because of our high standards for aviation, and we will maintain this commitment as wireless companies deploy 5G."

About 40 countries have installed the C-Band strand of 5G, according to the wireless industry trade group CTIA, with no reports of hazardous interference with aviation equipment. However, like France, AT&T CEO John Stankey and Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg have offered to restrict the power of their 5G networks near airports.

Stankey and Vestberg said in a letter to Buttigieg and Dickson: “The laws of physics are the same in the United States and France. If the United States airlines are permitted to operate flights every day in France, then the same operating conditions should allow them to do so in the United States.”

Meanwhile, telecom companies are still at odds with airlines, which have cancelled almost 10,000 flights in the United States since Christmas Eve due to inclement weather and labour shortages caused by Covid-19. Vestberg said on 18 January, “While the airline industry faces many challenges, 5G is not one of them.”

As reported FAA will allow planes equipped with precise, reliable altimeters to fly near high-power 5G. Planes with earlier altimeters, on the other hand, will not be permitted to land in low-visibility conditions.

Now the FAA and the companies will have two weeks to implement the deal as a result of the launch postponement. Under licences already granted by the FCC, AT&T and Verizon will be able to debut C-Band service this month. The airlines have until 21 January to submit a list of up to 50 airports where they believe C-Band service should be reduced until 5 July.

Until July 2022, telecommunications companies will meet with the FAA and airlines to discuss long-term 5G coverage near airports. However, under the provisions of the FAA agreement, AT&T and Verizon will have sole discretion over whether or not to make any changes to the service.

Verizon CEO said: “We felt that it was the right thing to do for the flying public, which includes our customers and all of us, to give the FAA a little time to work out its issues with the aviation community and therefore avoid further inconveniencing passengers with additional flight delays.”

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