AT&T and Verizon make concessions on 5G rollout at airports

An airplane approaching San Diego Airport.

The mobile phone giants AT&T and Verizon have agreed to a compromise in the mobile phone dispute in the USA.

(Photo: Reuters)

Washington AT&T and Verizon are making last-minute concessions on their expanded 5G services for faster internet on mobile phones because of security concerns in the airline industry. Verizon announced on Tuesday that it had voluntarily decided to initially limit the introduction of the new mobile communications standard in the vicinity of airports.

This was preceded by a conflict with US airlines, which feared disruptions to air traffic because a radio frequency range of 5G Internet and certain aircraft electronics could get in the way.

US President Joe Biden thanked the mobile phone giants in a statement for their cooperation and spoke of a limited number of locations where the introduction of 5G is now being delayed. It’s about airports that play a key role in aviation.

The compromise will prevent potentially devastating disruptions to air traffic. However, over 90 percent of the 5G rollout went ahead as planned. The industry association Airlines for America had previously warned of potentially catastrophic consequences and aviation chaos if AT&T and Verizon did not give in.

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On Friday, the US air traffic control authority FAA ordered special measures for landings of the Boeing long-haul jet 787 “Dreamliner” due to safety concerns due to the introduction of 5G. If the runway is wet or snowy at airports with 5G service, additional precautions would have to be taken because the machines could need a longer braking distance, the authority said.

Because of risks to aviation, the FAA had previously urged AT&T and Verizon to postpone the 5G rollout at airports, which was originally planned for January 5, by two weeks.

The Federal Network Agency announced that there is a significantly lower risk potential in Germany. The background is that other 5G frequencies are used than in the USA.

“Nevertheless, further investigations are being carried out in the responsible European bodies with the participation of the Federal Network Agency, the flight safety authorities and representatives of the mobile communications and aviation industry in order to be able to rule out any influence,” the authority said. In the first measurements in France and Norway, no concrete influences were found.

More: “Risk not to be underestimated”: Why 5G can disrupt US air traffic

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