AT&T and Verizon postpone 5G service after Pete Buttigieg request

AT&T and Verizon said on Monday that they would delay the activation of new 5G wireless services by two weeks at the request of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. The latter cited the aviation industry’s concern that the service might interfere with the systems on the aircraft.

In a statement on Monday night, AT&T also reiterated its commitment to further reduce the power of the network around the airport within six months to allow regulators more time to study potential interference to air traffic.

AT&T and Verizon originally planned to launch new 5G services in many cities in the United States on Wednesday, but a trade organization in the aviation industry submitted an urgent request for regulators to temporarily block the move.

“At the request of Minister Buttigieg, we voluntarily agreed to postpone the deployment of C-band 5G services for another two weeks,” an AT&T spokesperson said in a statement. “We know that aviation safety and 5G can coexist, and we believe that further cooperation and technical evaluation will alleviate any problems.”

On Friday, the US Federal Aviation Administration Directors Buttigieg and Stephen Dickson asked the two companies to postpone the launch of their C-band 5G by up to two weeks. They warned that if there is no delay, aviation will be “unacceptable interference” because the flight will be cancelled or transferred to other cities to avoid potential risks to aviation safety.

Before the officials issued the warning, a major aviation trade group requested that the rollout of 5G be postponed. American Airlines told the Federal Communications Commission that the use of C-band 5G near dozens of airports may interfere with electronic equipment that pilots rely on. The organization said it had raised this issue before, but the Federal Communications Commission paid little attention.

The conflicts between telecommunications companies and airlines and between the FCC and FAA involve a 5G service that relies on a large amount of radio spectrum called C-Band, which wireless operators spent billions of dollars on last year.

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