Top Democrats call on AT&T and Verizon to delay 5G rollouts near airports

Top Democrats are calling on AT&T and Verizon to delay a new 5G wireless service rollout near airports due to fear of flight disruptions. 

Multiple airlines warned of “catastrophic disruption” from the 5G rollout, some of which is scheduled to happen Wednesday, as they say the technology causes technical issues to planes that would force them to stay on the ground.

“This means that on a day like yesterday, more than 1,100 flights and 100,000 passengers would be subjected to cancellations, diversions or delays,” executives of major airlines and delivery services said in a letter to government officials. 

In response, Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) released a statement calling on the companies to not release the 5G upgrades within two miles of an airport. 

The bottom line is simple: we must provide the FAA and aviation industry with more time to thoroughly assess the risks of deployment in order to avoid potentially disastrous disruptions to our national airspace system. We can’t roll the dice with the safety of our economy and the traveling public.” DeFazio said. 

AT&T and Verizon already delayed their Jan. 5 launch of the technology to Jan. 19 at the request of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg due to flight disruption concerns.

“Congress’ job is aviation safety. It may be inconvenient to some, but it is not inconvenient to the traveling public,” Larsen said. “I understand the telecommunications industry took on a massive amount of debt to invest in the 5G spectrum, but the safety of the traveling public has to come first.”