US airlines warn rollout of 5G networks could cause major disruption
Major international airlines have begun cancelling flights to the United States after the Federal Aviation Administration raised concerns about 5G wireless towers near airports.
Emirates, Air India, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways announced it would suspend flights after the Airlines for America trade group pressured the Biden administration over “catastrophic disruption” due to the scheduled 19 January rollout.
Emirates suspended flights into nine airports, including Boston, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas Fort Worth, George Bush Intercontinental in Houston, Miami, Newark, Orlando, San Francisco and Seattle. It said it would continue flying into New York’s John F. Kennedy airport, the Los Angeles airport and Washington Dulles.
Air India, meanwhile, announced the suspension of services between Delhi and San Francisco, Chicago and JFK, as well as between Mumbai and Newark.
“We are working closely with aircraft manufacturers and the relevant authorities to alleviate operational concerns, and we hope to resume our US services as soon as possible,” Emirates said in a statement.
Wireless telecom giants AT&T and Verizon announced the activation of 5G towers near some US airports would be delayed for two weeks to resolve the differences.
AT&T blasted the Federal Aviation Administration after airline CEOs asked the Biden administration warning the launch on Wednesday could cause thousands of flight cancellations affecting more than 100,000 passengers.
‘We are frustrated by the FAA’s inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services, and we urge it do so in a timely manner,’ AT&T officials said in a statement on Tuesday.
The high-speed 5G internet uses so-called C-band frequencies close to those used by aircraft to measure their altitude, with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) warning potential interference could affect sensitive aeroplane instruments such as altimeters and significantly hamper low-visibility operations.
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How are AT&T and Verizon taking it?
Both wireless giants have dismissed the concerns of the airline industry.
The wireless industry trade group CTIA notes that about 40 countries have deployed the C-Band strand of 5G without reports of harmful interference with aviation equipment.
But AT&T CEO John Stankey and Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg did offer to reduce the power of their 5G networks near airports, as France has done.
“The laws of physics are the same in the United States and France,” Stankey and Vestberg said in a letter Sunday to Buttigieg and Dickson. “If U.S. airlines are permitted to operate flights every day in France, then the same operating conditions should allow them to do so in the United States.”
Although they took steps to soothe the federal officials, the telecoms are still bickering with airlines, which have canceled more than 10,000 U.S. flights since Christmas Eve because of bad weather and labor shortages caused by COVID-19.
“While the airline industry faces many challenges, 5G is not one of them,” Vestberg said in a company memo Tuesday.
Justin Vallejo19 January 2022 08:00
HOW COULD 5G AFFECT FLIGHTS?
Following a flurry of headlines about the delay to the rollout of high-speed 5G internet in the US, many travellers have concerns about its potential effect on flight safety.
In early January, US mobile networks Verizon and AT&T agreed to push back their 5G rollouts – originally planned for December – until 19 January over aviation concerns, following a request from transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
However, this week top airline executives sent a letter to Buttigieg and other federal officials, saying in no uncertain terms that if the rollout goes ahead this week as planned, it could be “catastrophic” for the aviation industry.
So should we be worried about the dawn of 5G?
Here’s Lucy Thackray with everything we know so far.
Justin Vallejo19 January 2022 07:01
Whose side is the Biden administration on in 5G fight?
The Federal Communications Commission, which runs the auctions of radio spectrum, determined that C-Band could be used safely in the vicinity of air traffic. The FCC in 2020 set a buffer between the 5G band and the spectrum that planes use to resolve any safety concerns.
But Buttigieg and FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson, whose agency is responsible for aviation safety, saw a potential problem. On Friday, they asked AT&T and Verizon to hold off activating C-Band 5G near an undetermined number of “priority airports” while the FAA conducted further study. – Associated Press
Justin Vallejo19 January 2022 06:00
Why is 5G not an issue in other countries?
The European Union in 2019 set standards for mid-range 5G frequencies in a 3.4-3.8 GHz range, a lower frequency than the service set to be rolled out in the United States. The bandwidth has been auctioned in Europe and is in use in many of the bloc’s 27 member states so far without issue.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which oversees 31 states, said on Dec. 17 the issue was specific to U.S. airspace. “At this stage, no risk of unsafe interference has been identified in Europe,” it said.
FAA officials have noted the spectrum used by France (3.6-3.8 GHz) sits further away from the spectrum (4.2-4.4 GHz) used for altimeters in the United States and France’s power level for 5G is much lower than what is authorized in the United States.
Verizon has said it will not use spectrum that is closer to the higher band for several years.
In South Korea, the 5G mobile communication frequency is 3.42-3.7 GHz band and there has been no report of interference with radio wave since commercialization of 5G in April 2019.
Currently, 5G mobile communication wireless stations are in operation near airports, but there have been no reports of problems.
“Wireless carriers in nearly 40 countries throughout Europe and Asia now use the C band for 5G, with no reported effects on radio altimeters that operate in the same internationally designated 4.2-4.4 GHz band,” CTIA, a U.S. wireless trade group, said in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission. – Reuters
Justin Vallejo19 January 2022 05:00
Airlines fly into 40 countries with same 5G the FAA warns could risk lives, industry group says
In response to the push by US airlines and the FAA to delay the rollout of 5G near airports, the wireless trade group CTIA says airlines already fly to almost 40 countries without any major disruptions.
“In some of these countries, 5G signals operate in spectrum adjacent to aviation equipment. U.S. airlines fly in and out of these countries every day. If interference were possible, we would have seen it long before now,” wrote CITA CEO Meredith Attwell Baker in today’s Morning Consult.
These are the countries CITA says US carriers are already flying into:
Australia, New Zeland, Peru, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Philippines, China, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Latvia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany Luxemburg, France, Switzerland, Austra, Italy, Spain, Greece, Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia, Hungry, Romania, Bulgaria, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, and Singapore.
Airlines fly into 40 countries with same 5G the FAA warns could risk lives, industry group says
Justin Vallejo19 January 2022 04:00
ICYMI: 5G masts near airports lead to AT&T and Verizon activation delay
AT&T and Verizon have said they will delay activating some 5G masts around airports after aviation bosses warned that signals could have a “catastrophic” effect on air travel.
Less than 36 hours before Verizon and AT&T were set to deploy new 5G services, the top executives of major passenger and cargo carriers in the nation warned against an impending “catastrophic” aviation crisis.
The airline industry leaders said in a letter the deployment of new 5G mobile internet technology could lead to the grounding of a number of flights due to interference from the technology, “potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas” and lead to a “chaos” for US flights.
The Independent’s Namita Singh has the full story:
Justin Vallejo19 January 2022 03:00
How many planes does 5G affect?
The FAA will conduct a survey to find out how many planes are potentially affected by 5G near airport runways.
While planes with accurate, reliable altimeters will be allowed to operate around high-power 5G, those with older altimeters will not be allowed to make landings under low-visibility conditions.
The airline industry raised the stakes in a showdown with AT&T and Verizon over plans to launch new 5G wireless service this week, warning that thousands of flights could be grounded or delayed if the rollout takes place near major airports. – AP
Justin Vallejo19 January 2022 02:00
Read the letter that brought down the full 5G rollout
Two wireless telecom giants were brought to heel by a conglomerate of major aviation industry players, including Delta Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Atlas Air Worldwide, Alaska Air Group, Hawaiian Airlines, FedEx Express, UPS Airlines, and the industry group Airlines for America.
Read the full 17 January letter below.
Justin Vallejo19 January 2022 01:00
What happens next?
The two-week postponement will give the FAA and the companies time to implement the agreement.
AT&T and Verizon will be allowed to launch C-Band service this month under already-granted FCC licenses. The airlines have until Friday to give the companies a list of up to 50 airports where they believe the power of C-Band service should be reduced through July 5.
Until July, the telecoms will talk to the FAA and airlines about potential long-term measures regarding 5G service near airports. However, under terms of the agreement with the FAA, AT&T and Verizon will have sole power to decide if any changes in service will be made.
“We felt that it was the right thing to do for the flying public, which includes our customers and all of us, to give the FAA a little time to work out its issues with the aviation community and therefore avoid further inconveniencing passengers with additional flight delays,” Vestberg said in his memo. – Associated Press
Justin Vallejo19 January 2022 00:00
Two-week 5G delay doesn’t go far enough, Air Line Pilot Association says
The trade group for 61,000 pilots at 38 US and Canadian airlines has responded to the delay of 5G towers near airports, saying the two-week postponement doesn’t go far enough.
“Passengers and shippers deserve a commitment from the telecom companies not to launch the new 5G service at any of the airport locations identified by the FAA as being susceptible to 5G interference until a permanent fix is found,” they said in a statement.
“As we have reiterated for years, the aviation community has been raising red flags about 5G interference with aircraft instruments – concerns that have been ignored by the Federal Communications Commission and the telecom companies, creating the mess we’re in today.”
Read the full response below.
Justin Vallejo18 January 2022 23:20