Wednesday, March 22

Operators suspend the deployment of 5G in airports due to interference in landings

The operators of AT&T and Verizon mobile phone will delay the deployment of the red 5G around “certain airports” of U.S to avoid the potential “chaos” that air transport players fear.

AT&T and Verizon were scheduled to activate the new ultra-fast mobile internet technology across the country on Wednesday, but the US aviation agency, the FAA, remains concerned about possible interference between the frequencies used by 5G and essential flight instruments to aircraft landing under certain conditions and has required some adjustments.

For now, the FAA has validated the use of certain models of radio altimeters and has given its endorsement for 48 of 88 US airports that are among those most directly affected by interference risks, imposing restrictions in certain cases.

The heads of ten air transport companies warned on Monday of the potential “chaos” that the deployment near some airports would represent and called on the authorities to intervene “immediately” to avoid “a major operational disruption for passengers, carriers, provisioning and delivery of essential medical goods.

Launch in the rest of the US

In this context, AT&T and Verizon, which have already postponed the deployment of 5G several times since December, agreed to temporarily defer the activation of cell towers around certain airport runways, while continuing with the launch of the network in the rest of the country.

AT&T decided, for example, not to activate the towers installed in a perimeter of 3.2 kilometers around the airports specified by the FAA.

President Joe Biden thanked the two operators in a statement for their decision, which according to him avoids disturbing air traffic and allows the activation of the vast majority of 5G mobile phone towers, an essential element for the country’s competitiveness.

White House experts will continue to work “relentlessly” with telephone operators, airlines and aircraft manufacturers to find “a permanent and functional solution around these key airports,” he said.

Deployment planned for two years

The decision was made to “continue to work with the airline industry and the FAA” and “provide them with broader information” about this new technology, AT&T said. The two operators regretted, however, that the authorities have taken so long to react to the deployment of 5G, planned for at least two years.

The FAA and the country’s airlines “have not been able to resolve the 5G issue around airports even though the technology has been safely and effectively deployed in more than 40 countries,” a Verizon spokesperson said. “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 air services,” AT&T said in a separate message.

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The question about the consequences of the deployment of 5G in the United States began to gain strength in November, after the publication by the FAA of a special bulletin asking affected companies to share specific information about radio altimeters, a radar that measures the distance between the aircraft off the ground and is essential for landing at night or in poor visibility. Certain frequencies awarded to AT&T and Verizon in February 2021 at the end of a tender for tens of billions of dollars, ranging from 3.7 to 3.98 GHz, are in fact close to those used by radio altimeters, which work in the spectrum from 4.2 to 4.4 GHz.

Although there is no risk of direct interference between the frequencies, the intensity of the emission of the 5G antennas or a part of their emissions could cause problems for certain altimeters. In December, the manufacturers Airbus and Boeing also expressed “concern” about possible disturbances in the instrumentation of their devices by 5G in the United States, since the country chose frequencies closer to those of its radio altimeters than those used in Europe or South Korea. South.