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Friday, December 3, 2021

AT&T and Verizon Agree to New Safeguards to Address 5G Safety Concerns

WASHINGTON – AT&T and Verizon Communications on Wednesday agreed to take new precautions to address safety concerns raised by the planned use of C-band spectrum for 5G wireless communications.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the aviation industry have raised concerns about potential interference from 5G deployments with sensitive aviation electronics such as radio altimeters.

AT&T and Verizon said they have pledged within six months to take “additional steps to minimize energy from 5G base stations – both nationwide and even more around public airports and heliports,” and said this should solve problems with altimeters.

Earlier this month, AT&T and Verizon agreed to postpone the commercial launch of wireless C-band service until January 5, after the FAA issued a bulletin on November 2 warning that action may be required to address potential interference caused by 5G deployments.

On Wednesday, the FAA said it will consider the telecommunications proposal, calling it “an important and encouraging step … The FAA believes aviation and C-band 5G wireless can coexist safely.”

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The FCC said that “these technical risk mitigation measures represent one of the most comprehensive efforts in the world to protect aviation technology.”

By early December, the Federal Aviation Administration may issue an emergency directive for airlines, and two House Democrats warned that it could include “draconian but necessary restrictions on many types of mission-critical flights.”

AT&T said it is taking action “while additional data from radio altimeters manufacturers are being evaluated. While there is no credible evidence that there is a legitimate interference issue, we agreed to take these additional steps to mitigate any safety concerns from the FAA. ”

Wireless groups say there have been no C-band safety issues in other countries using this spectrum.

AT&T and Verizon said the commitments will expire on July 6 “unless there is credible evidence that real interference will occur if the measures are softened.”

David Shepardson

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