Verizon and AT&T disregard letter from authorities asking to further delay the deployment of 5G.
AT&T and Verizon have been asked to delay for two weeks their roll out of 5G networks because they may interfere with airline flight safety protocols. The original rollout was scheduled for December 5th, but this was delayed by a month due to similar concerns voiced by Airbus and Boeing. U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) head, Steve Dickson, asked for most recent delay. Now the airlines are warning passengers about an increased delay in flights after both networks brushed off the request.
The letter written to the mobile networks pleaded with the companies to “continue to pause introducing commercial C-Band service for an additional short period of no more than two weeks beyond the currently scheduled deployment date of January 5.” It continued, “5G service will be able to begin as planned in January with certain exceptions around priority airports. Coming Jan. 5 – unless something changes – we will not be able to use radio altimeters at 40-something of the largest airports in the country. It is a certainty. This is not a debate.”
Airlines for America (A4A) said if the FAA 5G directive had been in effect in 2019, “approximately 345,000 passenger flights, 32 million passengers, and 5,400 cargo flights would have been impacted in the form of delayed flights, diversions, or cancellations.” Southwest Airlines’ (LUV.N) chief executive, Gary Kelly, said the directive “would be a significant setback” to its operations.
“The aviation industry’s fearmongering relies on completely discredited information and deliberate distortions of fact,” said CTIA Chief Executive Scott Kirby, adding that the 5G network “could delay, divert or cancel about 4% of daily flights and impact hundreds of thousands of passengers. It would be a catastrophic failure of government.” He continued, “The FCC and FAA need to get in a room and talk to each other and solve the problem. [The issue] cannot be solved on the back of airlines.”
Verizon spokesperson Rich Young replied to the request, “We’ve received the government’s letter after 6pm on New Year’s Eve. We’re in the process of reviewing it.” AT&T also indicated it would be reviewing the request.
Verizon and AT&T submitted a letter to federal authorities in November to confirm their intention to deploy 5G in January and indicated that they would “take extra precautions beyond those required by US law until July 2022 while the FAA completes its investigation.” The officials have said that the “priority has been to protect flight safety, while ensuring that 5G deployment and aviation operations can co-exist.”
French authorities recommended switching off mobile phones with 5G on planes in February 2021, leading the U.S. to decide to take precautions. France’s civil aviation authority said, “interference from a signal on a nearby frequency to the radio altimeter could cause critical errors during landing.” In other words, the networks could lead to plane crashes if the frequencies were to cross or if 5G threw off landing communications. The FAA has requested further information to ensure the safety of all passengers and flight personnel.