AT&T and Verizon may delay 5G expansion again due to FAA concerns

Over the past month, AT&T and Verizon have halted roll out of their potentially faster C-band 5G service, due to safety concerns from the Federal Aviation Administration. Now, it appears there may be an additional delay in store, again due to FAA concerns. The two major carriers were scheduled on December 5 to use the newly purchased frequencies to deploy the C-band service, but delayed the launch to January 5 after the Department of Transportation raised concerns about potential interference. According to the message I got Reuters, the Department of Transportation and the FAA are now requesting up to two additional weeks to study the matter.

In the letter, which Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and FAA Administrator Steve Dixon sent to the CEOs of AT&T and Verizon, the pair requested a delay of “no more than two weeks.” The two placed the order as part of a “proposal as a near-term solution to enhance the coexistence of 5G deployment in the C-band and secure flight operations,” according to Reuters.

The contention so far has been the possibility that pilots could use a bad weather safety system that could interfere with the new C-band 5G technology. The FAA would eventually like to enact regulations prohibiting pilots from using such systems, The Wall Street Journal reported in november. Aviation officials have claimed that C-band 5G has the ability to interfere with flights in and around the approximately forty cities where C-band towers are located. The carriers have claimed that there is no evidence that C-band 5G will jeopardize aviation safety.

Under it Reuters In its report, the FAA will identify “priority” airports where “the buffer zone allows flight operations to continue safely while the FAA completes its assessments of potential interference.”

Reuters Both companies say they have received the letter. But they have not yet gone so far as to agree to an additional two-week delay. Needless to say, this delay would be unwelcome news for both carriers. Reuters Reports said the companies on Friday accused the airline industry of holding the C-band expansion “hostage until the wireless industry agrees to cover the costs of upgrading any obsolete altimeters.”

In a statement to from the inside On Saturday, a Verizon spokesperson said, “If airlines are so concerned about 5G-related flight cancellations, they really should look at their track record over the past two weeks,” referring to the recent wave of cancellations amid a spike in COVID-19 cases. “Obviously this industry, which has received $54 billion in taxpayer financing, and government bailouts over the past two years, has much bigger issues to worry about.”

Despite the frustration that executives from the two companies may feel, such as Reuters He notes that the companies agreed to six months of precautionary measures when purchasing C-band spectrum in early 2021.

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