Buttigieg and FAA ask AT&T and Verizon to delay 5G launches

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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the Federal Aviation Administration have asked AT&T and Verizon to delay the planned launch of their 5G wireless services next week, citing aviation safety concerns.

Inaction will result in “widespread and unacceptable disruption as planes divert to other cities or flights are canceled, causing ripple effects throughout the US air transport system,” according to a letter (PDF) Buttigieg and FAA administrator Steve Dickson sent companies’ general managers on Friday.

The request for a two-week delay for the service to launch on January 5 comes as some 5G signals could interfere with radio altimeters, which use similar signals to measure an aircraft’s distance above the ground at a time. given. Airlines have filed a urgent request to the Federal Communications Commission Thursday, threatening to continue if the deployment is not delayed for further study of whether the signals would disrupt the cockpit instruments.

Verizon and AT&T did not immediately respond to requests for comment. In the past, the wireless industry has said it will take precautions to ensure 5G does not interfere with sensors on aircraft. The carriers, along with experts from the FCC, further said there were no serious interference issues.

Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, a supporter of the new 5G services, in a tweet accused the Biden administration of “working to unnecessarily delay C-band operations.” In one letter to ButtigiegCarr called the delay request “very irregular” and said the FCC’s rules for 5G signals would protect flight operations from harmful interference.

The letter proposes to identify priority airports “where a buffer zone would allow flight operations to continue safely while the FAA completes its assessments of potential for interference.”

In November, the FAA warned of potential interference between key cockpit safety devices and ground cell towers transmitting 5G signals. And earlier this month, the FAA released new guidance for the airline industry, warning that interference from 5G signals using the C-band spectrum could lead to flight hijackings, but l The agency did not quantify the impact.

The new 5G C-band is expected to deliver faster and longer-range signals, improving the relatively short range of higher-speed millimeter-wave 5G and providing faster connections than low-band 5G like 4G LTE. Wireless companies are promoting 5G both as the next technological step and as a critical update delivering faster internet speeds and reliability.

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