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AT&T, Verizon to delay 5G due to air safety concerns: US regulators

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Potential interference with US airline frequencies prompted AT&T and Verizon to delay rollout of their 5G networks./AFP
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Nov 05, 2021 - 09:05 AM

NEW YORK — Telecom giants AT&T and Verizon agreed to push back deployment of a new 5G frequency band to allow time to address air safety concerns, US regulators said Thursday.

The two companies will “voluntarily pause” the commercial rollout “to further assess any impact on aviation safety technologies,” the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Communications Commission said in a joint statement.

The two companies had planned to begin using the 5G network on December 5, after spending tens of billions of dollars to purchase licenses.

But aviation regulators have worried about the possible interference of the signals with flight safety equipment.

The agencies pledged “to coordinate closely to ensure that the United States keeps pace with the rest of the world in deploying next-generation communications technologies safely and without undue delay.”

The FAA on Tuesday issued a special bulletin to aircraft manufacturers and radio altimeter manufacturers recommending analysis of potential interference at the 3.7 to 3.8 Ghz levels, as well as at frequencies between 4.2 and 4.4 GHz.

Airlines should alert pilots to the “potential degradation” of safety systems “dependent upon radio altimeters,” the FAA said.

“There have not yet been proven reports of harmful interference due to wireless broadband operations internationally, although this issue is continuing to be studied,” the FAA said.

AT&T said it would push back deployment to January 5.

“It is critical that these discussions be informed by the science and the data,” the company said in statement. “That is the only path to enabling experts and engineers to assess whether any legitimate co-existence issues exist.”

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