Under pressure from the Federal Aviation Administration, airline businesses, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the two major telecom carriers – Verizon and AT&T have agreed to postpone the rollout of their improved 5G networks for two weeks.
On Jan. 5, the two countrywide telecom carriers were set to begin upgrading their 5G networks with the so-called C-band spectrum. The radio frequencies, which the carriers paid a total of $70 billion for last year, were expected to provide their 5G speeds and coverage a significant boost. Instead, after first telling the FAA that they would ignore the request, they will defer.
In an emailed response, Verizon spokesperson Rich Young said, “We’ve agreed to a two-week delay which guarantees the certainty of bringing this nation our game-changing 5G network in January delivered over America’s greatest and most dependable network.”
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The U-turn averts a legal battle between the FAA, the aviation industry, and the Transportation Department on one side, and the carriers and the Federal Communications Commission, which approved the use of the airwaves, on the other. The aviation sector had been lobbying carriers to delay deploying C-band 5G service in order to avoid signal emissions interfering with critical mid-flight navigation devices. It’s unclear what steps will be made in the next two weeks to satisfy the FAA’s and the aviation industry’s concerns.
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The carriers had won FCC auctions to use frequencies from 3.7 to 3.98GHz to use for their upgraded 5G service, but the aviation industry argued those radio airwaves may interact with instruments like altimeters that use the 4.2 to 4.4GHz ranges. While carriers pledged in December to wait 30 days until Jan. 5 to give the industry more time to adapt, Buttigieg and the FAA requested another delay right before the deadline, which Verizon and AT&T initially rejected.
The carriers had won FCC auctions to utilize frequencies ranging from 3.7 to 3.98GHz for their improved 5G service, but the aviation sector claimed that the radio airwaves could interfere with devices such as altimeters that operate in the 4.2 to 4.4GHz band. While carriers agreed to wait 30 days until Jan. 5 to allow the industry more time to adapt in December, Buttigieg and the FAA requested another delay just days before the deadline, which Verizon and AT&T first turned down.