In the past month, AT&T and Verizon delayed their potentially faster rollout 5G C-band service, due to Federal Aviation Administration safety concerns. Now, it looks like a further delay could be expected, once again due to FAA concerns. The two main operators were due to use the newly purchased frequencies on December 5 to roll out C-band service, but postponed the launch until January 5 after the Department of Transport raised concerns over possible interference. According to a letter obtained by Reuters, the Department of Transportation and the FAA are now asking for up to two more weeks to investigate the matter.
In the letter sent by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and FAA Administrator Steve Dickson to CEOs of AT&T and Verizon, the couple asked for a “no more than two weeks” delay. The two made the request as part of a “proposal as a short-term solution to advance the coexistence of 5G deployment in the C-band and safe flight operations,” according to the report. Reuters.
Until now, the problem has been the possibility that pilots may use an inclement weather safety system that could conflict with this new 5G C-band technology. The FAA would eventually like to promulgate regulations prohibiting pilots from using such systems, The Wall Street Journal reported in November. Aviation officials have claimed that the 5G C-band has the potential to interfere with flights in and around the nearly four dozen cities where the C-band towers are located. there was no evidence that the 5G C-band would jeopardize flight safety.
In the framework that Reuters Described in its report, the FAA would designate “priority” airports where “a buffer zone would allow flight operations to continue safely while the FAA completes its assessments of potential interference.”
Reuters said both companies say they received the letter. But so far they have not agreed to an additional two weeks. Needless to say, this delay would be bad news for both carriers. Reuters Reports that on Friday, the companies accused the aviation industry of holding C-band expansion “hostage until the wireless industry agrees to cover the costs of upgrading obsolete altimeters.”
And in a statement to Initiated On Saturday, a Verizon spokesperson said: “If airlines are so concerned about 5G-related flight cancellations, they should really take a look at their track records over the past two weeks,” referring to a wave of recent cancellations amid an increase in COVID-19 cases. “This industry which has benefited from a $ 54 billion taxpayer-funded government bailout over the past two years clearly has much bigger issues to worry about.”
As frustrated as the executives of both carriers can be, however, also Reuters notes that companies have accepted six months of precautionary measures when they bought the C-band spectrum in early 2021.