After lots of pleas and threats for legal actions against the FCC, the agency, as well as top telecom carriers in the US such as Verizon and AT&T, have now reached an agreement alongside the Department of Transportation.
Despite the much-celebrated scheduled launch of its C-band spectrum by Verizon, the telecom firm will now be pausing the deployment for another two weeks.
We’ve agreed to a two-week delay which promises the certainty of bringing this nation our game-changing 5G network in January, delivered over America’s best and most reliable network
At Secretary Buttigieg’s request, we have voluntarily agreed to one additional two-week delay of our deployment of C-Band 5G services. We also remain committed to the six-month protection zone mitigations we outlined in our letter. We know aviation safety and 5G can co-exist and we are confident further collaboration and technical assessment will allay any issues.
Tune in to the #UltraShow on 1/4 at 1PM ET and see where streaming, gaming, and the @NFL are going. Hosted by @ElizabethBanks with @TerryCrews & more!— Verizon (@Verizon) January 1, 2022
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According to the FAA Communications deputy assistant administrator, Jeannie Shiffer in a statement to The Verge, “Safety is the core of our mission and this guides all of our decisions. The FAA thanks AT&T and Verizon for agreeing to a voluntary delay and for their proposed mitigations. We look forward to using the additional time and space to reduce flight disruptions associated with this 5G deployment.”
She further stated that the agreement will see the companies use mitigations similar to the ones already used in some European nations.
In the agreement, the mitigation will be put in place in some 50 airports for nearly six months.
The FAA also added that “While U.S. standards and operating environments are unique, we believe this could substantially reduce the disruptions to air operations.”
The CEOs of both AT&T and Verizon John Stankey and Hans Vestberg both released a note that they are agreeing to “your proposal would not only be an unprecedented and unwarranted circumvention of the due process and checks and balances carefully crafted in the structure of our democracy but an irresponsible abdication of the operating control required to deploy world-class and globally competitive communications networks that are every bit as essential to our country’s economic vitality, public safety and national interests as the airline industry.”
However, both companies stated that they will not give in to the demands of FAA and DOT about their C-band spectrum upgrades for additional two weeks.
The two CEOs also pushed for the adoption of mitigations like those used in France – which will create a buffer zone around certain airports and lower power levels nationwide.
According to the FAA, the controversy exists because of “concerns that the 5G signal could interfere with the accuracy of an airplane’s radio altimeter, without other mitigations in place,” according to the FAA.
Altimeters are crucial for automated landings, and the FAA claims that rolling out the changes could disrupt air travel or even impact safety altogether.
The reason for the C-Band spectrum is due to its speed for 5G connection and its wide range of reach.