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AT&T, Verizon Agree to Hold Back C Band 5G Near Airports

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Jan 18, 2022, 2:29 PM   by Rich Brome   @rbrome

AT&T and Verizon are moving forward with this week's launch of 5G service in the new C Band, but have voluntarily agreed to new restrictions around airports at the request of major US airlines. The airlines have asked for 5G in the C Band to be banned within two miles of airport runways, a limitation that will severely reduce availability of the service in some cities. Verizon's initial launch will now cover 90 million people, down from the 100 million originally promised. The FCC and wireless industry insist that 5G in the C Band poses no danger to airplanes. 5G in this band is already operating in over 40 countries with no reported issues. But the FAA remains unconvinced that the service cannot interfere with some airplanes' radio altimeters, which use a nearby radio frequency to measure distance to the ground. The FAA came to an agreement with AT&T and Verizon on airport restrictions earlier this month, but also instituted new rules for airlines that apply to certain airports near C Band 5G networks and certain weather conditions. The FAA has so far tested and approved two radio altimeter models, exempting 45% of the US commercial fleet from the rules. But airlines say the rules would still have resulted in over 1,000 additional cancelled flights on days with poor weather. The new 2-mile restriction should allow the FAA to relax those rules until more testing and new rules can be put in place that will allow C Band 5G near airports.

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