C banking was a technology reserved for large satellite television networks. However, as part of the deployment of 5G networks, today it is the battlefield of the main telephone companies and airlines in the United States. Known what is c bandhow it impacts 5G connections and why airlines oppose its implementation.
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what is c band
Band C is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum allocated for satellite transmissions in the frequency range between 4 and 8 GHz. It is also used by Wi-Fi devices and climate measurement devices.
This spectrum is used in locations where signals may be degraded due to rain or other intense weather-related conditions. As a general rule, C-band satellite dishes are larger, measuring between 6 and 8 feet in diameter (1.8 meters to 2.4 meters).
Since the 1970s, C-band had been used for satellite TV broadcasts, but because it requires large antennas, providers have switched to Ku-band, such as Dish and DirecTV, which require smaller, more flexible dishes.
Because today’s satellite TV providers use the higher end of the spectrum, the lower end is available for other satellite communication, wireless services, surveillance systems, and weather radar.
For this reason, it has been considered in the United States and in the world as “the” solution to accelerate the deployment of the 5G network and that it is finally capable of providing the data transmission speed that it had promised.
How the C band impacts the 5G network
Using C-band spectrum for 5G could help mobile carriers bolster the reach of their networks by offering the wide channels they need to deliver the fast transmission they promised.
5G millimeter wave may be fast, but it’s not capable of traveling long distances. In general, you need to have a tower in sight to enjoy its speed, which explains why in densely populated areas it is difficult to get these types of signals.
However, the C band will allow this coverage to be extended, as it is capable of covering a wide geographical range with a small number of towers.
For this reason, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted in February 2020 new rules for the C band at 3.7-4.2 GHzallocating the lower 280 megahertz for terrestrial wireless use.
The auction of the licenses to use the band between 3.7-3.98 GHz was won by companies such as Verizon and AT&T, who paid close to $70,000 million dollars. Satellite operators will have to move their operations to the upper 200 megahertz of the band, that is, between 4.0-4.2 GHz.
Does it affect aircraft safety?
In late 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) imposed restrictions on pilots, fearing that 5G signals carried in the C-band spectrum would interfere with aircraft security systems .
Specifically, the FAA prohibited operating autoland and other systems used in inclement weather for fears that the C-band spectrum would affect their effectiveness.
According to the FAA, 5G signals in the C band have the potential to interfere with radar or radio altimeters, which measure the distance between the aircraft and the ground. However, the FCC examined the issue in 2021 and found no evidence of harmful interference to aircraft.
When will band C 5G be available
After a voluntary suspension in early 2022 to address airline concerns, all major US mobile carriers activated Band C 5G on January 19, 2022, with the following coverage:
- AT&T: Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Chicago, Detroit, Jacksonville, Orlando, and South Florida. They will display the text “5G+” when connected.
- Verizon: it hasn’t detailed its coverage, but its goal is to reach 1,700 cities by the end of January 2022. Users will see a “5G UW” or “5G UWB” icon when connected.
- T Mobile: has not activated band C, but hopes to reach about 225 million people.
Both companies also voluntarily agreed to roll out 5G C-band near airports through July 2022, for the FCC and FAA to determine if the technology interferes with aircraft radio altimeters.