5G aviation fears: Mobile carriers propose a compromise to the FAA

US mobile carriers are trying to reduce 5G aviation fears by offering to temporarily reduce the base station power across the country, with output very limited near airports. They propose to do this for six months to give the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) time to conduct further investigations.

The situation seems rather bizarre given the complete lack of evidence for any risk of interference with aircraft …


Arstechnica previously explained the strange situation where operators initially agreed to postpone the use of additional 5G spectrum for a month.

AT&T and Verizon reluctantly agreed to postpone the launch of 5G on newly acquired C-band spectrum licenses for a month until January 5, in response to the Federal Aviation Administration’s claim that the new service could interfere with radio altimeters used in aircraft .

Mobile carriers are not alone in being frustrated by the delay. Observers from the telecommunications industry point out that the Federal Communications Commission only approved the use of the C-Band spectrum from 3.7 to 3.98 GHz after analyzing the aviation industry’s allegations of interference and finding no evidence to support the allegations. The FCC also required a 220 MHz guard band that remains unused to protect altimeters from interference. That watch band is more than twice the size of the 100 MHz buffer originally proposed by Boeing, the FCC has said.

U.S. passenger planes fly to nearly 40 other countries using this part of the 5G radio spectrum without a single incident report, so it’s still unclear why the FAA has concerns.

New proposal to curb 5G aviation fears

However, it appears that airlines want to avoid stricter restrictions by offering a compromise. That WSJ reports.

AT&T and Verizon said they would limit some of their fifth-generation wireless services for six months while federal regulators review the effects of the signals on flight sensors, an attempt to remedy a conflict that has plagued both industries.

The mobile carriers detailed the proposed limits on Wednesday in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission. The companies said they would lower the signal tower power levels nationwide and impose stricter power ceilings near airports and helicopter sites, according to a copy reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

“While we remain confident that 5G poses no risk to aviation safety, we are also sensitive to the Federal Aviation Administration’s desire for further analysis of this issue,” the companies said in the letter to FCC President Jessica Rosenworcel. Wireless industry officials have held frequent talks with FCC and FAA experts to discuss the allegations of interference and potential corrections, according to people familiar with the matter.

The FAA welcomed the proposal, but has not yet indicated whether it will agree to it.

The newspaper notes that 5G users should not be significantly affected, as airlines already use directional antennas near airports to limit the strength of the signals reaching planes, and within terminal buildings, most people use wifi.

Photo: Safwan Mahmud / Unsplash

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