Verizon and AT&T agreed to postpone the launch of a new slice of 5G service by about fifteen days after aviation regulators and airlines complained about the possible disruptions with systems onboard planes. The United States President Joe Biden reached an agreement with the telecom giants to avoid further disrupting flights that bad weather and the mounting COVID-19 already delayed and canceled thousands of flights over the last few days, especially during the Christmas and New Year holiday season.
Joe Biden announced that Verizon and AT&T have agreed to delay the launch of a new slice of 5G wireless service after aviation groups complained that the networks could interfere with systems on board planes. pic.twitter.com/tdumzdIPKp
— Live News Now (@LiveNewsNow6) January 5, 2022
Both telecom giants agreed to delay today’s planned launch of the new C-Band strand of 5G, which pledges faster speeds for customers to implement changes across airports. However, they still sack the concern that it could negatively affect aviation equipment. In addition, the companies previously postponed the launching of C-Band by one month when, over the weekend, they refused a request by the head of the Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to delay the launch again.
Under the 3rd January deal, the companies also agreed to cut the power of their new networks nearby major airports for six months. That will give the Federal Aviation Administration more time to study possible disruptions with aviation. In a Tuesday statement, President Biden said that the agreement ensures that there will be no interference to air operations over the next two weeks and puts on target to significantly fewer disruptions to air operations when Verizon and AT&T launch 5G on 19th Janu January.
How important is the new 5G service for telecommunications firms?
Thus far, 5G service from Verizon and AT&T has not been too much different from the existing 4G service for most customers. Moreover, the latest segment of radio frequencies titled C-Band, a mid-brand spectrum, could mean faster internet signals over broad areas for several customers. T-Mobile already has huge bands of mid-band spectrum. During the last some years, wireless carriers across the country spent tens of billions of dollars to license spectrum from the federal government and roll out 5G service. However, the plan of the companies to use C-Band ran into intense opposition from aviation groups and airlines.
What is the argument of the airline industry about the new 5G service?
The United States airline carriers say wireless use of the C-Band of the spectrum could disrupt altimeters, radio devices that measure the height of the plane above the ground. In addition, the trade group Airlines for America said airlines could be forced to withdraw or divert thousands of flights as a safety measure.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission determined that C-Band could be safely used in the surrounding air traffic area. In 2020, the FCC set a buffer between the spectrum and the 5G band airplanes to use to resolve any safety concerns. Stephen Dickson, the FAA Administrator, and Buttigieg saw a likely problem. On Friday, they asked Verizon and AT&T to avoid activating C-Band 5G near an unspecified number of priority airports while the FAA performed the further study.
Under the deal, the FAA will hold a survey to determine how many planes this affects. Furthermore, the FAA will allow airplanes with reliable, accurate altimeters to operate around high-power 5G. However, planes with older altimeters will not be allowable to make landings under low-visibility circumstances. The fifteen-day postponement will give the FAA, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the companies time to implement the deal.