In the US, phone operators won't release 5G near certain airports

In the US, phone operators won’t release 5G near certain airports

A plane takes off near a base station located near San Francisco International Airport (California), January 18, 2022.

A 5G launch in the US is still scheduled for Wednesday, January 19, but not at all airports. The operators AT&T and Verizon announced Tuesday that they have agreed not to activate their relays around certain airports. Obviously, it will be the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA, the US aviation regulator) that will indicate the danger zones.

Telephone giants are responding to airlines that have threatened to cancel thousands of flights. They ensure that 5G deployment can disable some onboard instruments necessary for certain landings: radio altimeters, which measure the distance between an aircraft and the ground or water surface. They are especially important during the landing phase in low vision, and use the frequency range that goes from 4.2 GHz (GHz) to 4.4 GHz. However, AT&T and Verizon are preparing to use a very similar band in the US in favor of their 5G networks (between 3.7 GHz and 3.98 GHz).

The two operators, who spent nearly $80 billion (about 70 billion euros) to buy the precious frequencies at auction in 2021, are furious. They have already postponed entry to 5G for a month, and then for another fifteen days. Federal Aviation Administration and companies “We have not been able to solve the 5G problem around airports despite it being deployed in a safe and efficient manner in more than forty other countries”Verizon charged in a statement.

Read also Cell phones: 5G can disrupt air traffic

In early January, the FAA unveiled a preliminary list of US airports at risk from 5G, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Detroit, Dallas, Philadelphia, Seattle and Miami. Atlanta’s airport, the first of its kind in the country, was not threatened. The Airports Association noted: More than 100 airports and helipads in 46 of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas will not be able to use low visibility approach procedures due to potential radio interference. » On Sunday, January 16, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finally approved low-visibility landings at 48 of the 88 potentially affected 5G airports, estimating that there would be no disruptions.

cascading effects “uncountable”

This was not enough for the airlines, which the next day sent an appeal to the White House with carriers FedEx and UPS: “Immediate intervention is required to avoid a major disruption to the movement of passengers, freight, production lines and drug delivery.” Write the airline chiefs, estimating that if nothing is done, about 1,100 daily flights will be canceled or delayed, affecting about 100,000 passengers. Company chiefs, who have not been able to return to normal operating movement since the beginning of the epidemic, have seen that the cascading effects could be “countless” can drive “The country’s trade to paralysis.”

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