5G C-band could lead to ‘chaos’, major airlines warn

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Update: Verizon and AT&T have voluntarily agreed to limit 5G C-band around US airports by temporarily not activating certain towers, according to statements made to CNN.

The original story is below:

Verizon and AT&T’s $70 billion 5G C-band investment is again facing a major pushback, but this time from airlines and supply chain companies.

After accepting multiple delays in rolling out mid-band 5G spectrum, which could bring faster, more reliable 5G to millions of Verizon and AT&T customers, carriers now face dramatic new concerns from Delta, JetBlue , United, Southwest Airlines, and FedEx (with others).

In a letter sent to White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and obtained by Reuters, airline CEOs have warned that in inclement weather, the 5G C-band rollout could lead to “more than 1,100 flights and 100,000 passengers being subject to cancellations, diversions or delays”.

5G concerns

Concerns about the potential impact of C-band on flight operations are not new. The FAA and airlines have been warning for months that the new tape could interfere with some aircraft’s altimeters, the devices that tell pilots exactly how far above the ground they are.

Verizon and AT&T have long insisted that 5G C-band poses no threat to aviation, but have also agreed to reduce power from all 5G C-band stations and additional delays while the aviation industry is working on mitigation measures.

Verizon and AT&T’s 5G C-Band 5G (T-Mobile uses a different part of the 5G spectrum) was originally scheduled to roll out Jan. 5, but the carriers agreed to another two-week last-minute delay. Now that that date is about to expire, airlines and supply chain partners are issuing their most dire warnings yet.

Companies like FedEx and UPS Airlines wrote in the letter, “To be frank, the country’s commerce is going to come to a standstill.”

A major concern for airlines and the FAA is how 5G C-band transmitters could interfere with flight operations in low visibility conditions, such as the recent snowstorms that swept through the United States. United on Sunday (and more are expected this week.).

In a statement issued on January 16, the FAA noted that it has cleared just under half of the U.S. commercial fleet for low-visibility landings at airports where C-band will roll out in January. 19. The agency added that it “continues to work with manufacturers to understand how radar altimeter data is used in other flight control systems. Passengers should check with their airlines if conditions weather is forecast at a destination where 5G interference is possible.”

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