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The Federal Aviation Administration on Friday a list published of the 50 U.S. airports that will have buffer zones, or areas where AT&T and Verizon have agreed to restrict 5G signals for six months.
In a rack, the FAA said it was working with the aviation community to determine where the buffer zones would reduce the risk of disruption, taking into account factors such as traffic volume, number of days with low visibility and geographic location. The agency said many airports are currently unaffected by AT&T and Verizon’s upcoming 5G rollout, a service the wireless companies will activate on Jan. 19 after several delays.
The buffer zones are intended to reduce the potential interference of 5G antennas with aircraft instruments called radar altimeters that tell pilots how far are they from the ground. They help pilots navigate and land aircraft in bad weather and prevent crashes.
Airports on the list include Dallas Love Field, a major passenger hub for Southwest Airlines, and Chicago O’Hare, a major hub for United Airlines and American Airlines. Facilities that serve as hubs for cargo and private jets, such as airports in Indianapolis, Northern New Jersey and New York City, were also part of the selected.
In addition, the list includes airports in Austin, Nashville, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle, and San Francisco, among others.
The FAA’s announcement comes amid a temporary ceasefire between transportation regulators and aviation groups, who worry that 5G antennas near some airports could affect the accuracy of altimeters, and telecommunications regulators and wireless companies, who claim that 5G technology will not pose any security problems.
On Monday, AT&T and Verizon agreed: pause their 5G rollout for two additional weeks at the request of federal agencies. The move was a quick turnaround for the wireless companies, which had just launched a day earlier fervently set foot on the ground and said agreeing to the petition is “an irresponsible relinquishment of the operational control necessary to implement world-class and globally competitive communications networks.”
AT&T and Verizon bought nearly all of the C-band radio spectrum auctioned off by the Federal Communications Commission last year, giving a total of nearly $70 billion, to improve their 5G networks.
About the next six months, which is how long AT&T and Verizon have agreed to keep buffers around 50 airports in place, the FAA will work with aerospace manufacturers and airlines to confirm whether planes can operate safely after the wireless companies’ 5G service is enabled. .
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