AT&T and Verizon agree to put 5G expansion plans on hold


AT&T and Verizon postpone 5G expansion
The FAA is worried 5G will interfere with pilot systems.
Photo: Philip Myrtorp/Unsplash

AT&T and Verizon have agreed to postpone major 5G expansion plans at the request of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Both carriers initially rejected a delay. They argued that it would be “an irresponsible abdication of the operating control required to deploy world-class and globally competitive communications networks.” But statements released Monday evening confirm they changed their minds.

FAA gets its 5G halt … for now

All kinds of concerns and conspiracies surround the continued rollout of 5G networks. In most cases, they’re completely unfounded. (No, 5G cannot give you COVID-19.) But it’s not just crackpots on Facebook that have concerns.

The FAA worries that 5G — the C-Band spectrum, in particular — could interfere with automated cockpit systems. That’s despite a lack of reported problems in other countries where the C-Band spectrum is already in use, like France.

“The laws of physics are the same in the United States and France,” said AT&T and Verizon executives earlier this week. “If U.S. airlines are permitted to operate flights every day in France, then the same operating conditions should allow them to do so in the United States.”

Both carriers have since had a change of heart regarding their expansion plans, though. “We have voluntarily agreed to one additional two-week delay of our deployment of C-Band 5G services,” an AT&T spokesperson told CNN. Verizon also issued a statement confirming the delay.

AT&T and Verizon 5G expansion still coming

AT&T and Verizon say they remain committed to their 5G expansion plans. Verizon “promises the certainty of bringing this nation our game-changing 5G network in January delivered over America’s best and most reliable network,” its statement read.

They also say they will still honor a six-month protection zone around airports while further assessments and investigations take place. However, they remain confident that “aviation safety and 5G can co-exist.”


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