Major international airlines rush to cancel or cancel flights to the United States ahead of the 5G wireless rollout, which has led to security concerns, despite two wireless carriers saying they would delay parts of deployment. do.
AT&T and Verizon will suspend new wireless service near some airports planned for this week after the largest airlines in the US said the service would interfere with aircraft technology and cause widespread flight disruption.
AT&T said Tuesday it would delay commissioning of new cell towers around runways at some airports — it did not say how many — and work with federal regulators to resolve the dispute.
Verizon said it would launch its new 5G network, but said, “We have voluntarily decided to limit our 5G network around airports.”
The move comes after the airline industry bet this week in a showdown with AT&T and Verizon over plans to launch 5G wireless service, warning that thousands of flights could be frozen or delayed if the rollout nears major airports .
Here is a brief description of the issue.
Whose side is the government on?
The Federal Communications Commission, which runs radio spectrum auctions, determined that the C-band could be used safely around air traffic. In 2020 the FCC set a buffer between the 5G band and the spectrum that aircraft use to address any security concerns.
But Buttigieg and FAA Administrator Stephen Dixon, whose agency is responsible for aviation safety, saw a potential problem. On Friday, he asked AT&T and Verizon to stop activating C-band 5G near an undetermined number of “priority airports” while the FAA conducted further studies.
How did AT&T and Verizon react?
He dismissed the concerns. The wireless industry trade group CTIA notes that nearly 40 countries have deployed C-band strand of 5G without reports of harmful interference with aviation equipment.
But AT&T CEO John Stankey and Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg offered to reduce the power of their 5G networks near airports, as France has done.
“The laws of physics are the same in the United States and France,” Stankey and Vestberg said in a letter to Buttigieg and Dixon on Sunday. “If American airlines are allowed to operate flights every day in France, the same operating conditions should allow them to do so in the United States.”
Although he took steps to placate federal officials, telcos are still at loggerheads with airlines, which have suspended more than 10,000 US flights since Christmas Eve due to inclement weather and a labor shortage due to COVID-19. have been cancelled.
“While the airline industry is facing many challenges, 5G is not one of them,” Vestberg said in a company memo on Tuesday.
How many planes does this affect?
Under the agreement, the FAA will conduct a survey to find out. The FAA will allow aircraft with accurate, reliable altimeters to operate around high-power 5G. But aircraft with older altimeters will not be allowed to land in low visibility conditions.
What will happen in the next two weeks?
The two-week moratorium would give the FAA and the companies time to implement the agreement.
AT&T and Verizon will be allowed to launch C-band service under FCC licenses already granted this month. Airlines have until Friday to give companies a list of 50 airports where they believe C-band service power should be reduced by July 5.
By July, telcos will talk to the FAA and airlines about possible long-term measures regarding 5G service near airports. However, under the terms of the agreement with the FAA, AT&T and Verizon will have the sole authority to decide whether any changes to the service will be made.
“We felt it was the right thing to do for the flying public, which includes our customers and all of us, to give the FAA some time to resolve its issues with the aviation community and therefore further inconvenience passengers with additional flight.” Avoid being delayed,” Westberg said in his memo.
Nicolas Calio, president of the airline trade group, was more muted in his comments about the deal, though he thanked federal officials for reaching a deal with AT&T and Verizon.
“Safety is and always will be the top priority of US airlines. We will continue to work with all stakeholders to help ensure that the new 5G service safely coexists with aviation,” said Calio.
The FAA issued a brief statement about the two-week delay, saying it “looks forward to using the additional time and space to reduce flight disruptions associated with 5G deployments.”