Verizon, AT&T, and the FCC have been at loggerheads with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and airlines over the carriers’ plans to upgrade their 5G wireless services. On Friday, FAA had requested the mobile carriers to delay their plans for commercial deployment on January 5, which was declined by both Verizon and AT&T. Just a few days later, the companies did a U-turn and agreed to hold off on their plans.
Verizon spokesperson Rich Young said in a statement, “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&T also released a statement regarding the delay:
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.
The about-turn by the two companies comes on the heels of an impending lawsuit from Airlines for America (A4A), the airline industry’s trade group. A4A was preparing to file a lawsuit in federal court to prevent Verizon and AT&T from launching their 5G wireless service which utilized the C-band spectrum.
Back in December 30, 2021, the airline trade group filed an emergency petition with the FCC to delay the launch of 5G near certain airport locations, which included major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
A4A said in its petition:
“Despite the issue of harmful interference to altimeters having been raised by aviation interests, including A4A, since the beginning of the C-band proceeding, the Commission has never provided a reasoned analysis of why it has rejected the evidence submitted by the aviation interests.”
Stressing on the gravity of the issue, A4A said that 5G deployments near airports could lead to the cancellation of thousands of flights. This would have dire consequences, especially during the worldwide pandemic, delaying the delivery of vaccines and tests. The petition added that it could also result in an economic loss of more than $1 billion.
FAA executive Jeannie Shiffer thanked AT&T and Verizon for agreeing to delay their 5G upgrade. Shiffer added, “We look forward to using the additional time and space to reduce flight disruptions associated with this 5G deployment.”[Via The Verge]