The mobile firms claim they’ve struck a deal with the Department of Transportation, ending a stalemate that pitted Verizon, AT&T, and the FCC against the FAA and the aviation sector over the two carriers’ plans to upgrade their 5G wireless services. Delaying the introduction of the “C-band” spectrum means postponing a celebration planned for 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday, which would have marked the start of Verizon’s spectrum upgrade.
“Safety is at the heart of our mission, and it influences all of our decisions,” FAA Communications deputy assistant administrator Jeannie Shiffer told The Verge. The FAA expresses its gratitude to AT&T and Verizon for agreeing to a voluntary delay and proposing mitigations. We’re excited to use the extra time and space to minimize flight interruptions caused by the 5G implementation.”
She further claims that the firms would apply mitigations similar to those currently in place in European countries as part of the accord. “While U.S. standards and operating environments are unique, we believe this might greatly lessen the delays to flight operations,” the FAA said now, referring to the contract that will see such mitigations put in place around 50 airports for six months.
“Agreeing to your proposal would not only be an unprecedented and unwarranted circumvention of the due process and checks and balances carefully crafted in the structure of our democracy, but an irresponsible abdication of the operating control required to deploy world-class and globally competitive communications networks that are every bit as essential to our country’s economic vitality, public safety, and national security,” AT&T CEO John Stankey and Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg wrote.
The businesses stated they would not cave in to the FAA and DOT’s request to prolong their C-band spectrum improvements for another two weeks, which had already been delayed by 30 days. The CEOs continued to propose mitigations similar to those used in France, such as establishing a buffer zone surrounding particular airports and decreasing electricity levels across the country.
The debate occurs, according to the FAA, because “concerns that the 5G signal might interfere with the accuracy of an airplane’s radio altimeter, without additional mitigations in place.” These altimeters are critical for automatic landings, and the FAA says that implementing the adjustments will cause disruptions in air traffic and compromise safety.
An FCC auction earlier this year awarded the two carriers the rights to utilize so-called “C-band” frequencies for over $70 billion. Verizon and AT&T are anxious to deploy it so that, in addition to providing ultra-fast 5G connection in some places using high-band millimeter-wave technology and considerably slower 5G using low-band frequencies, the additional spectrum will give in-between performance over a far larger region. T-Mobile now uses spectrum in the mid-band, which is not in the C-band.