Verizon And AT&T Agree To Delay 5G Rollout In US After Aviation Regulator Flags Concerns Over Flight Safety

Verizon and AT&T have agreed to delay their rollout of US’s 5G spectrum by two weeks, after regulators flagged concerns over potential disruption to flight safety.

Two of US’s biggest telecom firms said that they will postpone the proposed launch of wireless 5G service, scheduled for Wednesday, by an additional two weeks.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the country’s aviation regulator, thanked AT&T and Verizon for agreeing to a voluntary delay of 5G deployment plans and for their proposed mitigations.

FAA said that wireless companies have offered to implement a set of mitigations comparable to measures used in some European operating environments. It added that These additional mitigations will be in place for six months around 50 airports identified as those with the greatest impact to the U.S. aviation sector.

Just two days earlier, Verizon and AT&T had rejected a U.S. government request to postpone new 5G service as it may interfere with aircraft electronics. The two wireless companies on Sunday said the request from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Steve Dickson, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, would be “to the detriment of” millions of mobile customers.

Safety Concerns

In December, FAA had raised concerns that their 5G radio spectrum interferes with avionics on some ageing aircraft.

FAA had announced that it is adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all airplanes equipped with a radio (also known as radar) altimeter. The directive was issued after it determined that radio altimeters cannot be relied upon to perform their intended function if they experience interference from wireless broadband operations in the 3.7-3.98 GHz frequency band (5G C-Band).

FAA concluded that the likelihood and severity of radio frequency interference increases for airline operations at lower altitudes. That interference could cause the radio altimeter to either become inoperable or present misleading information, and/or also affect associated systems on civil aircraft.