FAA 5G battle: Verizon and AT&T do U-turn, agreeing to further delay

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A new deal has been reached in the odd FAA 5G battle, with mobile carriers agreeing to a further delay to the rollout of additional 5G spectrum, despite yesterday saying they would not do so …

Background

The controversy began in November of last year.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has asked mobile carriers to delay part of their US 5G rollout plans over fears that new frequencies could interfere with altimeters on aircraft – despite no supporting evidence

The FAA offered no explanation for its concerns, and carriers proposed a compromise: they would reduce power near airports (radio altimeters are primarily used in the final phase of landing, telling pilots precisely how far they are above the ground). This was a small concession, since carriers already use directional antennas near airports to limit the power of the signals reaching aircraft.

The FAA continued to insist that there was a risk of interference, stating that this could cause flight diversions in certain locations – although the spectrums in question are used in more than 40 other countries, with no reports of aircraft being affected.

Latest in FAA 5G battle

A month-long hold on the rollout was due to expire tomorrow, but the FAA said that it wanted a further two-week delay. Both AT&T and Verizon yesterday refused to agree to this.

The wireless companies in a joint letter on Sunday said they would not deploy 5G around airports for six months but rejected any broader limitation on using C-Band spectrum.

However, CNET today reports that they have now done a U-turn on this.

Verizon and AT&T have agreed to delay the launch of their upgraded 5G networks for two weeks, bowing to pressure from the Federal Aviation Administration, the airline companies and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. 

It remains unclear why carriers changed their minds, and what measures will be undertaken within this two-week delay.

Once the new spectrum goes live, mobile users should see a significant boost in both 5G coverage and speed.

Photo by Safwan Mahmud on Unsplash

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