Administration

Biden commends wireless giants for delaying 5G rollout near key airports

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

President Biden on Tuesday thanked Verizon and AT&T for agreeing to temporarily delay their 5G deployment near key airports, arguing the decision will avoid interruptions to air travel.

“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,” Biden said in statement. 

The new 5G wireless service is set to deploy on Wednesday and airlines and cargo carriers have warned the deployment could ground flights. They urged officials to prevent 5G from being implemented within 2 miles of affected airports until the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) figures out a way for affected airplanes to fly safely. 

AT&T, in a statement on Tuesday, said the company agreed to temporarily defer “turning on a limited number of towers around certain airport runways” at its “sole discretion.” Verizon similarly stressed that the decision was voluntary. 

Biden said the Transportation Department will work with the wireless companies on 5G deployment safety at these key airports and the administration will engage with wireless carriers, airlines and aviation equipment manufacturers to reach a solution around the airports. 

“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,” he said.

AT&T and Verizon earlier this month delayed deploying 5G for two weeks following pressure from the White House and the airline industry over concerns the deployment would cause flight delays and interruptions.

Biden on Tuesday called expanding 5G and promoting competition in internet service critical priorities and called the deployment on Wednesday a “massive step in the right direction.” 

Earlier on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the White House is “actively engaged” with the FAA, the Federal Communications Commission, wireless carriers, airlines and aviation equipment manufacturers to avoid disruptions from 5G.

“We certainly understand what’s at stake for both industries,” she said, referring to the airline industry and wireless industry.

Biden, earlier this month, commended AT&T and Verizon for delaying the originally scheduled 5G deployment, saying at the time the decision will ensure there won’t be disruptions in air operations over the two-week period.

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