AT&T and Verizon say they will delay some new 5G wireless service after the airline industry raised alarms about potential interference with important systems on planes.
The airlines had warned of massive flight cancellations and disruptions.
The Biden administration got involved to settle the showdown between the telecom companies and airlines over AT&T and Verizon plans to launch new 5G wireless service this week.
Airline CEO's warn that thousands of flights could be grounded or delayed if the rollout takes place near major airports because the service interferes with key systems on board planes.
On Tuesday, AT&T said it was delaying turning on its 5G service at towers so they can "continue to work with the aviation industry and the FAA to provide further information about our 5G deployment," the AP reported.
They released the following statement:
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. 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. We are launching our advanced 5G services everywhere else as planned with the temporary exception of this limited number of towers.
Verizon followed suit, the news outlet reported. Among the towers that will be affected are those around Detroit Metro Airport.
President Joe Biden issued a statement Tuesday afternoon praising the wireless companies and the aviation industry for coming to an agreement.
I want to thank Verizon and AT&T for agreeing to delay 5G deployment around key airports and to continue working with the Department of Transportation on safe 5G deployment at this limited set of locations. This agreement will avoid potentially devastating disruptions to passenger travel, cargo operations, and our economic recovery while allowing more than 90 percent of wireless tower deployment to occur as scheduled. 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. Expanding 5G and promoting competition in internet service are critical priorities of mine, and tomorrow will be a massive step in the right direction. My team has been engaging non-stop with the wireless carriers, airlines, and aviation equipment manufacturers to chart a path forward for 5G deployment and aviation to safely co-exist – and, at my direction, they will continue to do so until we close the remaining gap and reach a permanent, workable solution around these key airports.
The AP reported that AT&T and Verizon had dismissed concerns but offered to reduce the networks' power near airports, as France has done.
According to the news outlet, the FAA will survey how many planes would be affected.
The AP reported that planes with accurate, reliable altimeters would be allowed to operate around high-power 5G.
Those with older altimeters will not be allowed by the FAA to make landings under low-visibility conditions.