Telecom giants reject calls to halt 5G rollout — Analysis

The US 5G rollout will continue on its current course despite concern that it may interfere with the electronics of planes

AT&T and Verizon Communications have rejected calls by the US aviation authority to delay the introduction of 5G networks amid concerns they could interfere with aircraft electronics.

As originally scheduled, American 5G networks will go into operation January 5, according to CEOs from the major telecom firms. They dismissed requests made earlier by US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Steve Dickson to halt the rollout, stating it would be “An irresponsible abandonment of operating control necessary to deploy communications networks that are globally competitive and world-class.

AT&T and Verizon Communications did agree not to deploy 5G networks in the immediate vicinity of airports for six months. The FAA and aviation industry both insist that the proposed exclusion zones for telecom companies are less than those originally requested.

As claimed by Airlines for America, there are concerns that 5G might interfere with aircraft electronics, such as radio altimeters. It could disrupt thousands of flights every day.

FAA fears 5G could affect ‘wide range’ of aircraft systems

The president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) took to Twitter on Sunday, stressing that “Safety” was the one and only reason why she and others in the industry called for the delay of the 5G rollout. 

AT&T and Verizon Communications parried those concerns by pointing to France where 5G networks were launched this fall, with safety zones around airports identical to those proposed by the telecom companies in the US. The CEOs’ joint letter charged that the “The laws of Physics are identical in France and the United States.” and hence, “If U.S. airlines can operate daily flights in France, the same conditions must apply in America.

Commenting on the letter, the FAA said it was reviewing the message “The wireless companies have provided some guidance on how to minimize interference from C-band 5G transmissions.” adding that “The US Aviation Safety Standards will direct our future actions.

Meanwhile, the Airlines for America trade association has threatened to take the US Federal Communications Commission to court if the authority fails to heed the group’s calls to put off 5G deployment around numerous US airports.

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