AT&T and Verizon CEOs reject FAA request to delay 5G C-band expansions by two weeks

In an ongoing battle between the FAA and airlines against the FCC, Verizon and AT&T over their planned launch of mid-range 5G service, mobile carriers are declining an FAA request for two weeks.

Earlier this year, an FCC auction sold the two operators the rights to use the so-called “C-band” frequencies at a price of nearly $ 70 billion. Verizon and AT&T are eager to roll it out so that in addition to offering super-fast 5G connectivity in specific areas using high-band millimeter wave technology and much slower 5G on low-band frequencies, the new spectrum will provide intermediate performance. over much larger areas. T-Mobile currently uses a mid-band spectrum that is not in the C-band.

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and FAA Administrator Steve Dickson on Friday sent a letter to AT&T CEO John Stankey and Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg on Friday, asking them to push back plans to start the commercial deployment on January 5. Air transport regulators have said they will use the time to identify priority airports, notify flights and align other methods of compliance.

Bloomberg and Reuters report that in a response letter today from the two CEOs, the companies, which had already bowed to a 30-day delay request and agreed to reduce the strength of their signals, said no. Their proposal is to start using C-band spectrum to expand their 5G services, but with a commitment to avoid deployment around certain airports for six months, saying a similar system is already in place in France. However, this commitment is “on condition that the FAA and the aviation industry undertake to do the same without escalating their grievances, however unfounded, in other forums.”

FCC Commissioner Mike O’Reilly tweeted about the letter, saying, “We can have safe, wireless flights. Reasonable people should accept that the US wireless industry has no more C-band limitations than France.

The problem is the idea that guided landing systems for aircraft “might be limited due to concerns that the 5G signal could interfere with the accuracy of an aircraft’s radio altimeter, without other mitigation measures in place.” according to the FAA. The 5G C-band and these radio altimeters don’t actually work in the same band, but the bands are close enough that fear exists.

Reuters points out that the Airlines for America trade group, which represents American Airlines, JetBlue, Delta, FedEx and UPS, among others, threatened to take court action on Monday if the FCC does not take action regarding the 5G rollout.

So far, the FAA’s response to the letter is: “We are reviewing the latest letter from the wireless companies on how to mitigate interference from 5G C-band transmissions. next actions. “

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