Buttigieg, FAA chief request delay in 5G rollout over airlines’ concerns

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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration sent a letter addressed to Verizon and AT&T requesting that they delay their rollout of 5G services amid airlines’ concerns over flight disruptions.

“We ask that your companies continue to pause introducing commercial C-Band service for an additional short period of no more than two weeks beyond the currently scheduled deployment date of January 5,” Buttigieg and FAA Administrator Steve Dickson wrote to the two companies in a letter dated Friday.

The two federal officials said, “Commercial C-band service would begin as planned in January with certain exceptions around priority airports. The FAA and the aviation industry will identify priority airports where a buffer zone would permit aviation operations to continue safely while the FAA completes its assessments of the interference potential around those airports.”

Buttigieg and Dickson noted that 5G wireless services would be allowed to roll out on a rolling basis around priority airports “such that C-Band planned locations will be activated by the end of March 2022, barring unforeseen technical challenges or new safety concerns.”

The letter noted that the FAA would make assessments as quickly as possible, noting that their goal was to prioritize flight safety.

The letter comes one day after Airlines for America, an airlines trade group, expressed concerns over AT&T and Verizon’s 5G rollout, which is expected to start on Jan. 5. Citing a potential for flight disruptions as a result of the technology, an emergency request was filed to the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday.

In November, both cellphone carriers, in an attempt to address regulatory concerns, proposed limiting their 5G services for the first half of 2022.

AT&T and Verizon confirmed to The Hill on Saturday that they had received the letter and were reviewing it.

“Years of research by the government and private industry has proven that 5G and aviation can safely coexist, just as it does in over 40 other nations. There is absolutely no reason why there should or will be any difference in the U.S. Assertions to the contrary are baseless and make absolutely no sense,”  Verizon said in a statement.

Tags AT&T FAA FCC. 5G Pete Buttigieg Verizon

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