Verizon and AT&T propose 5G midband power limits to avoid aircraft interference

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Following concerns from the aviation industry, Verizon and AT&T have both agreed to temporarily reduce the power of their new midband 5G towers in order to allay fears that the new spectrum could be used for equipment on board commercial and military aircraft. may interfere.

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When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced plan For the auction of a new segment of C-band spectrum last year, several commercial aviation groups raised concerns that these new 5G frequencies could cause catastrophic failures in avionics that could even lead to collisions. As a result, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the US Department of Transportation jointly asked the FCC to halt the auction until a more thorough investigation could be conducted into the matter.

Airliner cockpit with digital instrument panel.
Shendell Venegas / Unsplash

Despite this, the FCC went further, disagreeing with studies that suggested that the concentration of 5G telecommunications in the new 3.7–3.98GHz C-band through the 4.2–4.4GHz range could be used by aircraft equipment such as radar altimeters. Is. FCC officials said that the 0.2GHz buffer between the frequencies was more than enough to avoid interference.


Although earlier this month wall street journal reported that Verizon and AT&T agreed to delay their midband 5G rollout to early 2022 at the request of FAA officials. Both carriers had planned to roll out the new spectrum in early December, but voluntarily pushed the date to January 5 in a “sense of good faith,” as Verizon officials said. While the FCC and carriers still insist that the C-band rollout poses no risk to cockpit safety systems, they have agreed to work with the FAA to address their concerns, and are now looking to further improve aviation. We are proposing another settlement to be more calm. industry.

According to WSJ, Verizon and AT&T have sent a joint letter to FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel asking for six months to give aviation security researchers time to more carefully study the effects of the new spectrum on devices like radar on their 5G cell towers. has been offered to dial back the power of. altimeter

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While an overall limit on midband 5G power will be implemented across the country, the companies promised to further reduce signal output near airports and helipads. In a letter to Rosenworcel, the companies said they “believe that 5G poses no threat to air security,” but they want to be “sensitive to the Federal Aviation Administration’s willingness to conduct additional analysis of the issue.”

An FCC spokesman said the agency agreed with the limits, describing it as “one of the most comprehensive efforts in the world to protect aviation technologies” and saying it would work with the FAA. So that the new 5G frequencies can be “both safely deployed.” and fast.”

AT&T and Verizon are both on track to begin rolling out their new midband 5G deployments on January 5, 2022, and officials note that they don’t expect the temporary limits to have any serious impact on bandwidth during the initial rollout.

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