AT&T and Verizon aren’t delaying their 5G expansions any further. Bloomberg notes that the CEOs of the two airlines issued a joint letter denying a request from the FAA and the transportation department to suspend the rollout of their C-band service after Jan. 5 to address concerns about interference with aircraft systems. The companies argued that the plan proposed by the government would effectively give the FAA oversight of network expansions for an “unspecified number of months or years,” and would not apply to rivals like T-Mobile.
The move would mean an “irresponsible renunciation” of network control, the CEOs said. They also believed that granting the request would be to the detriment of the customers.
Instead, AT&T and Verizon tried to negotiate a compromise. They promised not to put C-band 5G towers near some airports for six months, but only until the aviation industry and regulators did more to stop the implementation of C-band. U.S. transportation agencies had asked for a general delay of no more than two weeks on Dec. 31, but called for the service to be phased in near “priority” airports until March to safeguard key runways.
It’s not clear how the FAA and the Transportation Department will respond. The rejection isn’t shocking. C-band service promises to deliver more of 5G’s long-praised speed benefits without the short range and poor indoor service of millimeter wave technology. It can also add capacity to keep 5G networks running smoothly as more users upgrade their devices. However, officials and the airline industry also have a lot to lose – they fear that C-band 5G could disrupt flights and endanger passengers. You may not see either side capitulate any time soon.
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