The Aviation Ministry is likely to hold talks with industry stakeholders and the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) before the launch of 5G mobile broadband services in India to address concerns about these airwaves potentially impeding airline operations across the country.
As reported by The Economic Times, an unnamed senior government official said: “If there is a concern or issue that needs to be addressed, it will be done.”
Additionally, technical teams from several Indian telecom companies were also planning to conduct tests to see if 5G mobile signals interfere with aviation systems' C-band.
This news comes after American telcos AT&T and Verizon announced that they have postponed 5G deployment near several airports that was set to launch this week. The United States has cancelled flights due to fears that 5G signals in the C spectrum band could interfere with the aircraft's altimeter—which is a device that measures the height of an aircraft above the ground and is extremely useful while landing in bad visibility.
It has been claimed that the 5G transmissions could interfere with an aircraft's altimeter system. Earlier this year, the CEOs of major airlines in the United States such as American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and others warned of the threats that the 5G deployment will bring.
Air India, which runs flights between India and the United States under a bilateral air bubble agreement, on 19 January this year, halted flights to destinations on American soil. But after authorities in the United States permitted the operation of Boeing model aircraft equipped with Honeywell altimeters, Air India resumed its Boeing 777 operations to the United States the next day.
Meanwhile, India intends to auction the 5G spectrum in April and May. Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea—the top telcos—are conducting 5G trials around the country and concluding partnerships with equipment vendors. It is expected that the 5G rollout could take place later this year or early next year.
As reported, the Federation of Indian Pilots, for example, has expressed worries about 5G mobile signals potentially affecting the operation of aircraft altimeters. The aviation regulator needs to find a solution, said a top executive in an airline's operations department, reported ET.
According to him, “A major systemic deficiency that has the potential to impact the safety of flight operations is out in the open and India should find a solution.”
On the other hand, the telcos in India have refuted such concerns, claiming that the C-band spectrum has already been deployed for 5G services in key regions including the European Union, United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, China, and Australia, with no disruption to air travel. They also argued that C-band airwaves have been used securely in local airport radar operations—at power levels significantly beyond those of 5G base stations—without causing interference with aircraft operations.
Similarly, CTIA, the trade association representing the wireless communications industry in the United States, said in a note: “Nearly 40 countries across the globe have already adopted rules and begun launching 5G in the C-band at similar frequencies and none of these countries have reported any harmful interference with aviation equipment.”
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