Cell phone companies agree to delay rollout of 5G service near airports for another year, FAA says


Cell phone providers have agreed to another delay in rolling out a 5G service to avoid interference with aircraft technologythe Federal Aviation Administration said Friday.

The FAA said the delay, with an additional year, will give more time for the permanent solution: replacing or filtering the devices that measure a plane’s distance from the ground, called radar altimeters. The promises of the new technology include faster speeds, but aviation officials say the radio waves could be picked up by the radar altimeter in some cases.

The new timeline raised concerns among major airlines and regional jet operators, the latter of which would be subject to an even more aggressive deadline at the end of 2022. The Regional Airline Association said the FAA is “pressing airlines to meet implausible deadlines.” “.

“Airlines are being asked to take the blame for a process that should have been foreseen years ago before telecom expanded into spectrum for aviation use,” said RAA CEO Faye Malarkey Black. “Our government partners must not pass on shortcomings in inter-agency coordination to the aviation industry.”

Airlines for America, a trade group representing major airlines, wrote in a letter that “changes affecting avionics performance are always based on deliberate industry consensus standards, extensive testing and critical oversight of FAA certification, often measured in years.”

“We are deeply concerned that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has burdened the aviation industry with acting in a manner previously considered reckless by the FAA itself in the context of design changes to safety-critical avionics,” the letter said.

The letter said safety “would be jeopardized by the hasty approach to avionics modifications under pressure from telecommunications companies.”

National Air Carriers Association spokesman Dan Stohr, whose members include budget airlines, said it would “continue to voice our concerns and find a way to equip the planes as safely as possible in the ways necessary to operate safely” . †

The FAA said the wireless carriers voluntarily offered the extra year of delay. According to the timeline, smaller regional jets should be adjusted “by the end of 2022” and larger jets by the summer of 2023.

An AT&T spokesperson told CNN that work in recent months has allowed the development of “a more tailored approach to controlling signal strength around runways” for the C-band, the part of the radio spectrum. which is used for 5G.

“While our FCC licenses allow us to fully deploy much-needed C-Band spectrum now, we have made a good faith decision to implement these more tailored precautions to give airlines additional time to adjust equipment.” said the AT&T spokesperson. “We appreciate the FAA’s support for this approach and we will continue to work with the aviation community as we ensure that all of these voluntary measures expire by next summer.”

Craig Silliman, executive vice president of Verizon, told CNN it will be “lifting the voluntary restrictions on our 5G network deployment around airports in a phased approach over the coming months, meaning even more consumers and businesses will take advantage of the vast possibilities of 5G.” -technology. †

“Today’s announcement identifies a path forward that will allow Verizon to fully utilize our C-Band spectrum for 5G around airports on an accelerated and defined schedule,” Silliman said.

Industry and government officials have held a series of meetings on the issue this year, most recently on Friday.

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