Boeing and Airbus have asked U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to delay the rollout of C-band spectrum for 5G wireless service. The companies say the deployment will interfere with the aircraft’s main instruments.
“5G interference could affect the ability of aircraft to operate safely,” said the letter, which was got by Reuters. Boeing CEO David Calhoun and Airbus Americas CEO Jeffery Knittel say the deployment, currently scheduled for Jan. 5, could have “a huge negative impact on the aviation industry.”
Manufacturers and aviation regulators have expressed concerns about 5G C-band signals interfering with radio altimeters on commercial aircraft. The instruments work by sending radio signals in the 4.2-4.4 GHz band to the ground and listening for a response. By measuring the time it takes for the signal to return to the sensor, the aircraft can calculate its height above the ground. Radio altimeters give pilots a more accurate reading than barometric altimeters, which rely on atmospheric pressure.
The aviation industry is concerned that malicious 5G signals could interfere with these calculations. If the FCC allows cell phone carriers to use C-band, the aviation industry claims tens or hundreds of thousands of flights could experience delays, diversions, or cancellations.
The deployment of the 5G C-band has been the subject of a protracted dispute between the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC first sold C-band spectrum to mobile operators in February 2020 after examining allegations of interference from aircraft instruments.
Although the FCC found no credible evidence of interference, it set aside a guard band of 220 MHz, limiting mobile operators to 3.7-3.98 GHz. This is “double the minimum guard band requirement discussed in initial Boeing and CURC comments. [Aviation Spectrum Resources]”said the FCC.
Last month, CTIA, the wireless industry trade group, highlighted the continued use of the 5G C-band in nearly 40 countries “at similar frequencies and power levels” as proof of its safety.
The root cause of the FAA’s concerns appears to be altimeters “built to decades-old specifications,” a wireless technology analyst. underline, adding that “well-designed equipment with reasonable filtering should not be affected by other equipment operating in adjacent bands or at hundreds of MHz”.
FAA administrator Steve Dickson said the agency is considering updating its standards for radio altimeters, but noted that “what that looks like in terms of renovations remains to be seen.” In one letter At the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Dickson said he expects “the cost of replacing or upgrading radar altimeters to be substantial.”
Last week, six former FCC Presidents – Republicans Ajit Pai and Michael Powell and Democrats Tom Wheeler, Mignon Clyburn, Julius Genachowski and Michael Copps – all wrote a letter to FCC President Jessica Rosenworcel and the Acting NTIA Administrator Evelyn Remaley, critical of FAA tactics. challenging the FCC’s C-Band approval and auction. The “FAA’s position threatens to derail the reasoned conclusions of the FCC after years of analysis and technical study,” wrote the former presidents.
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