Spectrum could interfere with altimeters, airlines warn
Hours before 5G antennas near airports were scheduled to go online, AT&T and Verizon announced they would halt the rollout, the latest development in a struggle between the telecom company and the aviation industry.
“At our sole discretion we have voluntarily agreed to temporarily defer turning on a limited number of towers around certain airport runways as we continue to work with the aviation industry and the FAA to provide further information about our 5G deployment, since they have not utilized the two years they’ve had to responsibly plan for this deployment. We are frustrated by the FAA’s inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services, and we urge it do so in a timely manner. We are launching our advanced 5G services everywhere else as planned,” AT&T said in a terse statement Tuesday.
AT&T and Verizon were set to debut C-band 5G spectrum technology at midnight Eastern.
In a letter sent Monday to federal transportation and economic leaders, airlines warned of dire consequences if the C-band deployment went ahead near airports.
“Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially be grounded,” read the letter, signed by the chief executives of American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, and Jet Blue, along with leaders of UPS and FedEx.
“Immediate intervention is needed to avoid significant operational disruption to air passengers, shippers, supply chain and delivery of needed medical supplies.”
The C-band 5G spectrum could interfere with airplane’s radio altimeter signals. Pilots rely on altimeters to guide them when landing, especially in inclement weather. The FAA had previously instructed pilots not to use auto-landing in places where 5G signals were present.