AT&T and Verizon said Monday they would delay activating the new 5G wireless service by two weeks at the request of Transport Secretary Pete Buttigig, who said the airline was concerned that the service could disrupt aircraft systems.
The announcement overturned the companies ’decision the day before to refuse any delays in the new 5G service.
In a statement issued Monday night, AT&T also reiterated its promise to further reduce the capacity of networks around airports – a French-style approach – over six months to give regulators more time to explore potential aviation interference.
“We know that aviation security and 5G can co-exist, and we believe that future cooperation and technical evaluation will solve any problems,” an AT&T spokesman said.
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A Verizon spokesman said the two-week delay would ensure the “accuracy” of the new service’s launch in January.
AT&T and Verizon on Wednesday had planned to launch new 5G services in many U.S. cities.
On Friday, Buttigieg and Federal Aviation Administration chief Stephen Dixon asked companies to delay C-band 5G for up to two weeks. They warned of “unacceptable interruptions” in aviation without delay, as flights would be canceled or diverted to other cities to avoid potential threats to air safety.
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Officials ’warning came after a request from a trading group of major airlines to delay the launch of 5G. For America, airlines have told the Federal Communications Commission that the use of C-band 5G near dozens of airports could interfere with aircraft altitude measurement devices. The group said it had raised the issue before, but had received little attention from the FCC.
Other aviation teams also signaled. Joe DePete, president of the Airlines Pilots Association, said Monday night: “It’s clear that launching 5G without responsibility is not ready for flight.”
The conflict between telecommunications companies and airlines and the FCC and FAA involves a type of 5G service that relies on parts of the radio spectrum called the C-Band, which wireless operators spent billions of dollars on last year.
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