FAA: AT&T, Verizon Agree to Delay Some 5G Rollouts
The agreement is designed to avoid potential 5G C-band interference to air travel, the FAA reported
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Federal Aviation Administration has announced that key players in the aviation and wireless industries have laid out a plan that will protect commercial air travel from disruption by 5G C-band interference while also enabling Verizon and AT&T to enhance service around certain airports.
“We believe we have identified a path that will continue to enable aviation and 5G C-band wireless to safely co-exist,” said Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen. “We appreciate the willingness of Verizon and AT&T to continue this important and productive collaboration with the aviation industry.”
The phased approach requires operators of regional aircraft with radio altimeters most susceptible to interference to retrofit them with radio frequency filters by the end of 2022. This work has already begun and will continue on an expedited basis.
At the same time, the FAA said it has been working with the wireless companies to identify airports around which their service can be enhanced with the least risk of disrupting flight schedules.
During initial negotiations in January, the wireless companies offered to keep mitigations in place until July 5, 2022, while they worked with the FAA to better understand the effects of 5G C-band signals on sensitive aviation instruments.
Based on progress achieved during a series of meetings, the wireless companies have offered to continue with some level of voluntary mitigations for another year, the FAA said.
“We all agreed when we began these meetings that our goal was to make July 5, 2022, just another date on the calendar, and this plan makes that possible,” Nolen said.
Airlines and other operators of aircraft equipped with the affected radio altimeters must install filters or other enhancements as soon as possible, the FAA said.
Filters and replacement units for the mainline commercial fleet should be available on a schedule that would permit the work to be largely completed by July 2023. After that time, the wireless companies expect to operate their networks in urban areas with minimal restrictions.
The FAA noted that radio-altimeter manufacturers are working with Embraer, Boeing, Airbus and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to develop and test filters and installation kits for these aircraft. Customers are receiving the first kits now. In most cases, the kits can be installed in a few hours at airline maintenance facilities.
Throughout this process, the FAA said it will work with both industries to track the pace of the radio altimeter retrofits while also working with the wireless companies to relax mitigations around key airports in carefully considered phases.
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George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.