AT&T/Verizon/FAA/Airline Industry continue playing musical chairs

Marco Bottegelli/Getty

Original story published January 3, 2022 at 2:50 pm ET:

AT&T and Verizon yesterday rejected a Federal Aviation Administration request to further delay a 5G rollout on C-Band frequencies but said they will adopt one of the world’s “most conservative” power limits near airports for six months after the planned January 5 deployment. This is in addition to other voluntary limits the carriers recently announced even though it has been almost two years since the Federal Communications Commission determined that use of the spectrum should not interfere with properly designed airplane altimeters.

Update at 11:20 pm ET:

AT&T and Verizon reversed course on Monday night, announcing that they agreed to the request for a two-week delay of their 5G rollouts on C-Band frequencies, according to reports from several news organizations. “At Secretary [of Transportation Pete] Buttigieg’s request, we have voluntarily agreed to one additional two-week delay of our deployment of C-Band 5G services,” an AT&T spokesperson said, according to CNN. “We also remain committed to the six-month protection zone mitigations we outlined in our letter. We know aviation safety and 5G can co-exist and we are confident further collaboration and technical assessment will allay any issues.”

Read on…and on…and on.

The only thing that’s clear to me is that the Airlines Association doesn’t have a lot of confidence in either the altimeters used by US carriers – or perhaps just the maintenance and adjustment of those devices. Currently “the spectrum is already being used for 5G in nearly 40 other countries, and the FAA admitted there are no ‘proven reports of harmful interference’ to altimeters.” So, what’s the beef?