A Southwest Airlines flight, equipped with radar altimeters that may conflict with the telecom 5 G technology, flies 500 feet above the ground while on final approach to land at LaGuardia Airport in New York City, New York, U.S. January 6, 2022. WASHINGTON, Jan 18, Reuters -- AT&T T.N said it would temporarily defer turning on some wireless towers near key airport runways to avert a looming aviation crisis, but the White House is still pushing Verizon Communications VZ.N to follow suit.
Sources told Reuters that the proposal would affect 5 G deployment near many large population centers, because of the proposal that would allow 90% of the wireless tower deployment to go forward.
Two of the sources said it would require delaying just over 500 towers from being activated near airports. The majority of the Verizon towers are in the United States.
AT&T said that we are frustrated with the FAA's inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5 G technology without disrupting aviation services.
The White House is working to prevent a massive disruption of flights ahead of Wednesday's scheduled 5 G deployment and actively engaged on the issue, a senior official said.
Airlines are preparing to cancel several passenger and cargo flights in the coming hours to prepare for new 5 G C-Band service that starts on Wednesday, after warnings on Monday of catastrophic impacts. Airlines are concerned that the issue could prevent them from flying Boeing 777 s and other widebody jets to many key airports.
The 5 G service could render a large number of widebody aircraft unusable, causing tens of thousands of Americans overseas to be stranded, and cause chaos for U.S. flights, the chief executives of major U.S. passenger and cargo carriers said on Monday.
Airlines have urged wireless carriers not to turn on some wireless towers near airport runways in order to avoid most of the flight disruptions.
The Federal Aviation Administration FAA has warned that potential interference could affect sensitive aircraft instruments such as altimeters and hamper low-visibility operations.
The airlines asked on Sunday that 5 G be implemented everywhere in the country except within the approximate 2 miles 3.2 km of airport runways at some key airports.
Verizon's roll out plan is more aggressive than AT&T's. The Biden administration request to delay using some towers near airport runways has a significant impact on it.
Alaska Airlines ALK.N Chief Executive Ben Minicucci said on Tuesday that there was a serious threat of cancellations, delays and diversions of our passenger and cargo flights if action is not taken immediately. AT&T and Verizon, which won significant C-Band spectrum in an $80 billion auction last year, agreed on January 3 to buffer zones around 50 airports to reduce interference risks and take other measures to cut potential interference for six months. They agreed to delay deployment for two weeks until Wednesday.
On Jan. 4th, Verizon Chief Executive Hans Vestberg told employees that the carrier saw no aviation safety issue with 5 G, but reluctantly agreed to a two-week delay that ends Wednesday. Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will be grounded, according to the chief executives of American Airlines AAL.O Delta Air Lines DAL.N United Airlines Southwest Airlines LUV.N and others.