Home Technology AT&T and Verizon agree to another 5G delay around airports

AT&T and Verizon agree to another 5G delay around airports

What is going on

AT&T and Verizon agree to delay the rollout of 5G on the C-band spectrum for another year, while the Federal Aviation Administration upgrades affected altimeters to avoid interference issues.

Why it matters

The FAA says it is working closely with wireless carriers and airlines to ensure there are no delays and to ensure the widest possible access to 5G service.

The Federal Aviation Administration has signed a deal with AT&T and Verizon to again delay the rollout of some 5G radios until July 2023 to give airlines more time to adjust aircraft equipment to ensure there are no interference issues.

This latest delay comes after the airlines and the FAA agreed in January to delay the rollout of 5G near some airport runways until July 5 this year. The two nationwide carriers began rolling out their upgrade to their 5G networks using the so-called C-band spectrum on January 5. their 5G speed and coverage.

But the airlines agreed to postpone service around certain airports as part of an agreement between the FAA and the airlines. The FAA and airlines are concerned that signals from 5G services using the C-band spectrum could interfere with receivers on altimeters using a nearby spectrum band. Altimeters are instruments used in aircraft to detect the ground when landing in poor visibility.


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“We believe we have found a path that will allow aviation and 5G C-band wireless to coexist safely,” Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen said in a statement Friday. “We appreciate Verizon and AT&T’s willingness to continue this important and productive partnership with the aerospace industry.”

Verizon said in a statement Friday that the latest agreement will allow the company “to lift the voluntary restrictions on our 5G network deployment around airports in the coming months in a phased approach.”

Through its months-long partnership with the FAA, AT&T said it had “developed a more tailored approach to controlling signal strength around runways, allowing us to activate more towers and increase signal strength.” AT&T said in its statement that it had voluntarily “chosen in good faith to implement these more tailored precautions to give airlines additional time to adjust equipment.”

Tensions between the wireless carriers and the FAA went public last year just before the roll-out of the 5G service using the C-band spectrum. In November, the FAA began threatening to limit flights over concerns that the 5G service would cause interference at some altimeters. The airlines agreed to delay the rollout of their service, but the issue came to light in January when the airlines began enabling the service and major international airlines, including Emirates, Japan Airlines and ANA, began canceling flights. flights with Boeing aircraft to several major US airports.

The airlines resumed flights within days when the FAA began issuing new approvals for aircraft it knew would not be affected by potential interference.

But the process to ensure that the interference problems for all aircraft are mitigated has been slow. In April, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told senators that the technology solution to address the FAA’s concerns “will not be fully resolved by this summer” and remains a “top of concern.”

The FAA said Friday that the phased approach will require operators of regional aircraft with radio altimeters most prone to interference to equip their aircraft with radio frequency filters by the end of 2022. The agency also said it is also working with wireless carriers to identify airports where they can safely amplify signals from their 5G service without disrupting flight schedules.

The FAA added that airlines and other aircraft operators using affected radio altimeters should install filters as soon as possible. The agency expects the altimeter adjustment work to be largely completed by July 2023.

“After that time, the wireless companies expect to be able to operate their networks in urban areas with minimal restrictions,” the FAA said in a statement.

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