U.S. officials ask AT&T, Verizon to delay 5G wireless over aviation safety concerns


WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the top of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Friday requested AT&T and Verizon Communications to delay the deliberate Jan. 5 introduction of latest 5G wireless service over aviation safety concerns.

In a letter Friday seen by Reuters, Buttigieg and FAA Administrator Steve Dickson requested AT&T Chief Executive John Stankey and Verizon Chief Executive Hans Vestberg for a delay of not more than two weeks as a part of a “proposal as a near-term resolution for advancing the co-existence of 5G deployment within the C-Band and secure flight operations.”

The aviation trade and FAA have raised concerns about potential interference of 5G with delicate plane electronics like radio altimeters that might disrupt flights.

“We ask that your firms proceed to pause introducing industrial C-Band service for an extra quick interval of not more than two weeks past the at present scheduled deployment date of January 5,” the letter says.

Verizon and AT&T each stated they acquired the letter and have been reviewing it. Earlier Friday the 2 firms accused the aerospace trade of searching for to maintain C-Band spectrum deployment “hostage till the wireless trade agrees to cowl the prices of upgrading any out of date altimeters.”

Buttigieg and Dickson stated underneath the framework “industrial C-band service would start as deliberate in January with sure exceptions round precedence airports.”

The FAA and the aviation trade would determine precedence airports “the place a buffer zone would allow aviation operations to proceed safely whereas the FAA completes its assessments of the interference potential.”

The authorities would work to determine “mitigations for all precedence airports” to allow most “massive industrial plane to function safely in all circumstances.” That would permit deployment round “precedence airports on a rolling foundation” — aiming to guarantee activation by March 31 barring unexpected points.

The carriers, which gained the spectrum in an $80 billion authorities public sale, beforehand agreed to precautionary measures for six months to restrict interference.

On Thursday, commerce group Airlines for America requested the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to halt deployment of latest 5G wireless service round many airports, warning hundreds of flights could possibly be disrupted: “The potential harm to the airline trade alone is staggering.”

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, representing 50,000 flight attendants at 17 airways, known as the Transportation Department proposal “the suitable transfer to efficiently implement 5G with out utilizing the touring public (and the crews on their flights) as guinea pigs for 2 methods that want to coexist with out questions for safety.”

Wireless trade group CTIA stated 5G is secure and spectrum is being utilized in about 40 different international locations.

House Transportation Committee chair Peter DeFazio Friday backed the airline group petition warning “we are able to’t afford to experiment with aviation safety.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Lisa Shumaker)

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