Even as the 5G technology trials in India are yet to start completely, the 5G rollout in the US has already slipped into turbulent times. As per the latest reports, the new technology is seen not in sync with aviation technology, which may cause interference with airplane safety technology.
The wireless companies including AT&T and Verizon have already announced to limit the rollout of new high-speed 5G networks near airports, a step the Federal Aviation Administration said should avert possible flight disruptions.
The new 5G technology is seen as another major challenge for the global aviation sector, which is already under deep stress following limited flight operations globally due to the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.
Experts believe that the deployment of new technology across the airports would require the aviation sector to shell out billions of dollars in technology upgrade of aircraft, which will not just be costly but also a lengthy exercise further stressing the aviation sector that is already in pain.
Meanwhile, many American airlines have already started preparing their employees for a wave of disruptions tied to the 5G rollout. The latest call to limit the 5G technology rollout near airports in the US marked another temporary fix in a dispute that has put different parts of the federal government at loggerheads putting a question mark on the 5G rollout.
However, the White House was quick to broker the deal, which President Biden said would still enable 90 per cent of new wireless towers to launch as planned.
“This agreement protects flight safety and allows aviation operations to continue without significant disruption and will bring more high-speed internet options to millions of Americans,” Biden said in a statement.
The telecommunications companies have twice delayed activating the towers in recent months to give aviation safety regulators more time to analyze potential interference with devices on planes known as radio altimeters. The devices measure how high planes are flying and are critical for landing in poor visibility.
The new 5G systems use a wireless spectrum known as the C-band, which is close to the airwaves altimeters rely on, creating the potential for interference. Despite agreeing to change their rollout plans, the two wireless carriers issued statements expressing disappointment that the FAA for not being able to resolve lingering safety issues.
“At our sole discretion, we have voluntarily agreed to temporarily defer turning on a limited number of towers around certain airport runways as we continue to work with the aviation industry and the FAA to provide further information about our 5G deployment, since they have not utilized the two years they've had to responsibly plan for this deployment,” AT&T said in a statement.
Other nations have activated 5G networks and have not seen elevated risks to aviation safety, prompting supporters of the technology to say the airlines' concerns are overblown. But the FAA, drawing comparisons with France, says there have been safeguards overseas that are not in place in the United States, such as wider buffer areas around airports, lower power transmissions and antennas tilted toward the ground.
Earlier the airlines, trying to recover from the pandemic downturn and thousands of cancelled flights around the Christmas and New Year's holidays, asked that the 5G rollout not be allowed within two miles of airport runways. AT&T said its changes were in line with that request.