Nationwide C-Band 5G Service Launches As Carriers Change Plans Out Of Flight Disruption Concerns

AT&T T and Verizon Communications VZ have begun to roll out their C-Band 5G services across the country as several international air carriers have cancelled flights into the U.S. out of concerns the new services will interfere with flight communications.

What Happened: According to an Endgadget report, AT&T’s C-Band 5G services are now live in “limited parts” of eight markets — Austin, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Jacksonville, Orlando and South Florida. Verizon stated it planned to have its 5G Ultra Wideband network in more than 1,700 cities by the end of this month.

AT&T and Verizon won the C-Band spectrum in an $80-billion government auction and planned to use it to boost their 5G speed and coverage. But the initial rollout date of Jan. 5 was delayed for two weeks at the request of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Federal Aviation Administration Chief Steve Dickson based on safety concerns that the signal would interfere with cockpit safety systems in airplanes.

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What Happened Next: The companies said they would create buffer zones around 50 airports to address the safety concern, although they also noted 40 countries are now using C-Band 5G without any aircraft interference.

That reassurance failed to mollify several international carriers. Air India, All Nippon Airways ALNPY, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways CPCAY, Emirates, Japan Airlines JAPSY, Korean Airlines, Lufthansa DLAKY and Singapore Airlines SINGY announced changes to their flights that either involved cancellation or switching aircraft to a plane that would not face interference from the C-Band spectrum.

Delta Airlines DAL announced that it was preparing for the possibility of weather-related cancellations caused by the deployment of new 5G service near dozens of U.S. airports. The company praised AT&T and Verizon's limiting of the scope of the rollout near airports and pledged to work for a solution to the issue.

“We believe industries can grow, innovate and co-exist for the benefit of consumers,” said Executive Vice President and Chief of Operations John Laughter. “That’s why we’re continuing to work with the FAA, the FCC and the telecom industry to find a practical solution that will allow for the rollout of 5G technology while preserving safety and avoiding flight disruptions.”

Photo: Mohamed Hassan/Pixabay.

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