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AT&T, Verizon Once Again Delay Activating 5G Around Certain Airports

The two carrier giants for the second time this month agreed to postpone their planned rollouts of C-Band-powered 5G services near airports to give the FAA more time to study potential interference between the mid-band 5G technology and aviation systems.

The two largest carriers in the country have once again agreed to delay switching on their 5G services following several postponements stemming from ongoing requests from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“At our sole discretion we have voluntarily agreed to temporarily defer turning on a limited number of towers around certain airport runways as we continue to work with the aviation industry,” Dallas-based AT&T said in a statement on Tuesday.

The 5G rollout near major airports had been scheduled for Wednesday by both carriers.

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The carriers made their disappointment with the FAA clear the day before its now-cancelled technology launch.

“We are frustrated by the FAA’s inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services, and we urge it do so in a timely manner,” the company added.

Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Verizon, like AT&T, also agreed to temporarily limit deployment near certain airports on Tuesday.

“As the nation’s leading wireless provider, we have voluntarily decided to limit our 5G network around airports,” Verizon said in its statement. “The FAA and our nation’s airlines have not been able to fully resolve navigating 5G around airports, despite it being safe and fully operational in more than 40 other countries.”

President Joe Biden hailed the deal to delay the deployment. “This agreement will avoid potentially devastating disruptions to passenger travel, cargo operations, and our economic recovery, while allowing more than 90 percent of wireless tower deployment to occur as scheduled,” said Biden in a statement.

AT&T and Verizon, as well as the FCC, have been locked in an ongoing battle with the FAA since December over the two carrier’s planned launches of their mid-band 5G service. The FAA and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg asked the two carriers to delay deployments until January 5, citing concerns over interference from 5G C-band transmissions near airports that could affect the accuracy of an airplane’s radio altimeter, which could limit guided landing systems for aircraft.

AT&T and Verizon at the time agreed to a two-week delay on the deployment of their respective C-Band 5G services. The carriers made their frustrations clear at the time, as the companies previously agreed to a 30-day delay request and to reduce the power of their signals.

The Biden administration, for its part, said it was “actively engaged” in finding a solution to the planned 5G rollout that airlines say cause safety problems and potentially, flight delays.

 

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