AT&T, Verizon delay 5G rollout amid FAA aircraft safety concerns

AT&T and Verizon said they have agreed to delay the commercial launch of a new 5G frequency band by a month pending assessment of any impact on aviation safety technologies.

The FAA and the Federal Communications Commission said in a joint statement that they “will continue to coordinate closely to ensure the United States keeps pace with the rest of the world in deploying next-generation communications technologies safely and without undue delay.”

The carriers were set to use C-band spectrum for 5G service on December 5 and agreed to delay it until early January.

Both carriers agreed that they would delay publication at the request of the Ministry of Transport. AT&T said it “will continue to work in good faith with the FCC and the FAA to understand the coexistence concerns that the FAA has emphasized. It is critical that these discussions are informed by science and data.”

Officials said the FAA and the Federal Communications Commission are having extensive discussions on the issue and the White House National Economic Council is also involved.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Tuesday issued a notice warning manufacturers, operators and pilots that action may be needed to address potential interference with sensitive aircraft electronics caused by the 5G deployment.

Dozens of planes were parked in a parking lot
The Federal Aviation Administration has warned manufacturers, operators and pilots that 5G deployment could interfere with aircraft systems.
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“We’ll find out until 5G and aviation safety coexist,” FAA Administrator Steve Dixon said Wednesday.

The FAA said operators “must be prepared for the possibility that interference from 5G transmitters and other technologies could cause some safety equipment to malfunction, requiring them to take mitigating measures that could affect flight operations.”

“Reports of harmful interference due to wireless broadband operations internationally have not yet been confirmed,” the bulletin said.

AT&T and Verizon storefronts side by side in an outdoor shopping mall
AT&T and Verizon agreed to delay the use of C-band spectrum for 5G service until early January as the FAA’s concerns were addressed.
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It is recommended that pilots remind passengers to turn off their 5G-enabled portable electronic devices or put them in airplane mode during flight.

The airline industry has been concerned about the plan to use C-band spectrum for more than a year.

Wireless trade group CTIA said Friday that 5G networks can safely use C-band spectrum “without causing harmful interference to aviation equipment,” and cited several active 5G networks using this spectrum band in 40 countries.


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