AT&T and Verizon cleared by US FAA to activate more 5G cell towers

Deepak Gupta February 20, 2022
Updated 2022/02/20 at 4:22 AM

Federal safety regulators say they have paved the way for Verizon and AT&T to power more towers for the new 5G service without causing radio interference on planes.

The Federal Aviation Administration said on Friday it took the action after receiving details from telecommunications companies about the location of the wireless transmitters.

The FAA’s move will allow companies to activate 5G cell towers closer to airports without hampering the ability of planes to land during bad weather.

Verizon and AT&T declined to comment. Nick Ludlum, spokesperson for telecoms trade group CTIA, called this a “positive development that highlights the considerable progress the wireless industry, the aviation industry, the FAA and the FCC are making to ensure robust 5G service and flights.” insurance”.

The Airlines for America trade group issued a similar statement. Spokesperson Carter Yang added that all sides are working on “a more efficient permanent solution” that will avoid disrupting air traffic as more 5G towers come online.

Aviation groups and the FAA warned that the companies’ 5G service, which uses part of the radio spectrum called the C-Band, was too close to the spectrum range used by instruments that measure the height of planes above the ground — information crucial to the landing in low visibility.

Verizon and AT&T, which spent billions to build 5G networks, disputed the FAA’s findings. But they twice agreed to delay the launch of the new 5G and temporarily delayed it at many airports, even as they started offering the service in many US cities on January 19.

Since the dispute came to light earlier this month, the FAA has cleared most types of planes — 90% of the U.S. fleet — to operate around 5G signals, saying their height-measuring devices, called radio altimeters , are protected from the radio. interference.

Dreadful predictions of thousands of canceled flights did not come true, but dozens of flights were grounded over 5G concerns, including international flights bound for the US last week and some domestic flights this week at Paine Field near Seattle. Some small planes, mainly a group of Embraer regional jets, were not released.

“It’s too early to declare victory,” said Faye Malarkey Black, president of the Regional Airline Association, earlier this week. “This is not fixed. We are not fixed.”

Regional airlines — smaller companies that operate flights under contract with major airlines — faced limitations on much of their fleets during bad weather, Black said.

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