FAA Unveils 50 Airports With C-band 5G Buffer Zones


When AT&T and Verizon’s C-band 5G services go live on Jan. 19, they will deploy buffer zones around 50 U.S. airports to reduce the risk of flight disruption. The Federal Aviation Administration has released a list (PDF) of the 50 airports it has chosen, including major passenger hubs such as Chicago O’Hare International, Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles International. As The Wall Street Journal notes, it also includes airports in foggy and cloudy locations such as Seattle-Tacoma International, as well as freight hubs such as Indianapolis International.

The carriers were set to roll out their 5G service on January 5 using their newly purchased frequencies, but they agreed to comply with the request from the FAA and the transportation department to delay their expansion for another two weeks. Authorities plan to use the extra time to investigate concerns that the new frequencies are too close to those used by aircraft radar altimeters. The devices measure the distance between the aircraft and the ground to help aircraft land in poor visibility and weather conditions. Wireless companies deny that using the C-band frequencies for 5G will disrupt aviation.

The FAA said Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and some of the other busiest airports in the US are missing from the list because they are nowhere near the areas where the new 5G services will be deployed. Meanwhile, other major airports are also not included as they are considered far enough from the nearest 5G towers.

Airlines for America, the association that represents major North American airlines, told Reuters and The Post in a statement that it is supporting the FAA’s efforts to take action for airports most affected by disruptions caused by the introduction of new airlines. 5G service, appreciate. Kevin Burke, the CEO of airport trade group Airports Council International-North America, is less than pleased, however. Burke said the list is “largely irrelevant because the entire aviation system is about to be negatively impacted by this ill-planned and coordinated expansion of 5G service in and around airports.”

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