AT&T and Verizon reject calls to postpone 5G deployment due to concerns about flight safety

Due to concerns about potential interference with aviation technology, AT&T and Verizon on Sunday rejected a request from US regulators to postpone the launch of some 5G wireless services, which were originally scheduled to be launched this week.

American Telecom CEO John Stankey and Hans Vestberg escalated the dispute between the two companies and U.S. regulators in a joint letter because of aviation The industry is concerned that 5G services may interfere with sensitive aircraft electronic equipment that is essential for flight take-off and landing.

The two parties have been reviewing the 5G deployment plan originally scheduled for December 5th, but agreed to postpone it for one month for further security reviews.

On Sunday, Stankey and Vestberg proposed a proposal that AT&T and Verizon will continue to provide 5G services this week, but within six months they will adopt a so-called restricted zone around the airport, similar to French regulations.

The executives wrote: “The laws of physics in the United States and France are the same,” adding that the two companies spent a total of more than $80 billion to purchase 5G spectrum from the government and spent billions of dollars on related deployments. .

They objected to the government agency’s initiative to review potential interference with aviation altimeters (used to measure the height of objects) in November 2021 (that is, about ten months after the end of the 5G spectrum auction).

“The Wall Street Journal” earlier reported the news of the joint letter.

The two companies’ proposal is in response to a request made by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration on Friday to require telecom operators to postpone their January 5 launch by another two weeks.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and FAA Administrator Steve Dixon wrote on December 31: “Failure to reach a resolution by January 5 will force the U.S. aviation sector to take measures to protect travel Public safety. These measures will lead to widespread and unacceptable interruptions due to transfers to other cities or cancellation of flights.”

A spokesperson for the FAA said on Sunday that the agency will review the latest proposal by the Telecom Group, “American aviation safety standards will guide our next steps.”

Fearing that the two sides are far from reaching an agreement on how to proceed, the latest proposal has sparked further criticism.

Sara Nelson, International Chairperson of the Air Attendants Association-CWA and AFL-CIO Alliance, Wrote in a tweet On Sunday, AT&T and Verizon’s joint letter “shows that the two parties are not operating on the same set of facts. The air traffic and telecommunications systems of the two countries are not the same.”

A Verizon spokesperson said on Sunday that of the hundreds of flights scheduled between the United States and France every day, “these flights have no FAA-related warnings, and there are no direct cancellations of US flights in France because of the use of these frequency bands. What’s the difference? No one is there.”

Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr pointed out that 5G services deployed on the so-called C-band spectrum have been launched in more than 40 countries and there is no known aviation interference.

He wrote in a letter to Minister Buttigieg on Saturday that the DoT and FAA’s request for further delays in 5G “is part of the dysfunctional trend of certain federal agencies that disagree with Congress’s decision to make reasonable decisions on spectrum policy. Procedures established”.

He added: “Unless wireless operators start their C-band business under the FCC’s regulatory regime on January 5, it will mark an unacceptable setback for the U.S. leadership in the 5G field.”

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