5G will get full rollout despite official requests to delay

Washington DC - 5G network cell phone service is still scheduled to be rolled out on January 5, despite government and airline companies' requests to postpone.

AT&T workers have upgraded service towers to prep for the 5G rollout.
AT&T workers have upgraded service towers to prep for the 5G rollout.  © IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications have rejected a request that they delay the planned launch of their new 5G wireless services. The request was made by federal transportation officials, who fear safety problems and potentially more extensive disruption for airlines.

In their request, the officials had said the new C-Band spectrum could cause widespread and unacceptable disruption to air traffic, as 5G signals are feared to interfere with aircraft electronics – posing a safety hazard.

In a joint letter to the US Department of Transportation, the CEOs of both telecom giants said the request would be to the detriment of their millions of consumers, business, and government customers.

However, the companies offered to alter the use of the C-Band spectrum to just be used for a six-month period – until July 5 – near certain airports that will be selected in negotiations with officials and the aviation industry.

This is to give the authorities more time to study the signals' effect on air traffic.

Responding to the request letter, the companies, which had already delayed the launch, said the officials are seeking steps to once again assist the aviation industry and the FAA after failing to resolve issues in the costly 30-day delay period.

5G worries

Verizon stores in NYC have advertised the 5G rollout to customers.
Verizon stores in NYC have advertised the 5G rollout to customers.  © IMAGO /Levine-Roberts

The latest request comes after a December 30 petition by airlines seeking a delay in the launch, noting that they could lose more than $1 billion if they can't properly operate their aircrafts due to interference concerns.

They also feared that it could disrupt travel plans for millions of passengers, who have already seen huge flight delays and cancellations over the last two weeks.

The US government's auction of the C-band spectrum almost a year ago raised more than $80 billion for the Treasury.

AT&T and Verizon said the government had approached them in November to ask to delay using the C-Band spectrum in order to avoid potential disruption to the aviation industry.

Despite the works of thousands for almost a year and billions spent towards a December 5 C-Band deployment, AT&T and Verizon had then agreed to wait until January 5 to begin using the C-Band and to implement additional restrictions on use of the spectrum through July 5 – over and above the operational restrictions the FCC already had found sufficient to protect radio altimeters.

In their letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Steve Dickson, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, Verizon Chief Executive Officer Hans Vestberg and AT&T's John Stankey said, "At its core, your proposed framework asks that we agree to transfer oversight of our companies' multi-billion dollar investment in 50 unnamed metropolitan areas representing the lion's share of the US population to the FAA for an undetermined number of months or years. Even worse, the proposal is directed to only two companies ..."

5G, the newest and fastest wireless internet technology, is still scheduled to roll out in the US, despite qualms with the safety of the new tech.

Cover photo: IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

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