The Federal Aviation Administration has tentatively agreed to no longer request 5G delays from AT&T and Verizon, potentially ending a battle over the aviation industry’s unproven claim that 5G transmissions on C-band frequencies will interfere with aircraft altimeters.
The engagement came on Monday night, when AT&T and Verizon agreed to a two-week extension, pushing their rollout until January 19. They had previously agreed to a deadline of December 5 to January 5. The terms of Monday’s deal were outlined in an attachment. has a letter that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg sent to the carriers.
“In light of the foregoing, and subject to any unforeseen aviation safety concerns, the DOT and FAA will not seek or demand any further delay in the deployment of C-Band,” the terms of the agreement read.
Radio exclusion zones around airports
Buttigieg thanked the CEOs of AT&T and Verizon, writing, “Your voluntary agreement to delay the initial deployment for two weeks and then adopt additional mitigation measures will give us more time and space to reduce impacts on commercial flights … We are confident that your voluntary measures will support the safe coexistence of 5G C-band deployment and aviation activities. “
The agreement incorporates voluntary commitments previously made by AT&T and Verizon, including “C-band radio exclusion zones” around airports for six months. The aviation industry will provide carriers with “a list of up to 50 priority airports” where exclusion zones will apply.
AT&T and Verizon will provide data on base stations, operating characteristics and planned deployment locations. They will also “continue to work in good faith with aviation stakeholders to support the technical assessment of individual altimeters and airport environments,” the agreement said. The FAA has previously said it will “safely expedite alternate means of compliance (AMOC) approvals for operators with high-performance radio altimeters to operate at these airports,” noting that airlines may already use altimeters that can coexist with C- Band transmissions.
Airlines have threatened to massively cancel their flights
AT&T and Verizon’s C-band spectrum licenses are for frequencies from 3.7 GHz to 3.98 GHz, but the companies do not plan to deploy between 3.8 GHZ and 3.98 GHz until 2023. Radio altimeters used to determine aircraft altitudes are based on the spectrum from 4.2 GHz to 4.4 GHz.
AT&T and Verizon have repeatedly pointed out that C-band is used for 5G in nearly 40 countries unrelated to interference with altimeters. The Federal Communications Commission determined that the spectrum could be safely used for 5G in a February 2020 decision. The FCC set aside a 220 MHz guard band that will go unused to protect altimeters, saying “well-designed equipment should not normally be used. not receive significant interference (let alone harmful interference) under these circumstances. “
Ahead of Monday’s deal, a trade group that represents major U.S. airlines filed a emergency petition asking the FCC to stop the deployment of C-band near airports. The petition threatened legal action and claimed that C-Band interference could force airlines “to hijack or cancel thousands of flights every day.”
AT&T and Verizon initially refused Buttigieg’s request for a further delay, claiming that she “asks that we agree to hand over to the FAA oversight of our companies’ multibillion-dollar investments in 50 unnamed metropolitan areas representing the lion’s share of the population American for an indefinite number of months or years. “
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