Airlines Say 5G Mess In U.S. Airports Can Be Solved Quickly
On Tuesday afternoon (Jan. 18, 2022), AT&T and Verizon activated their 5G networks but agreed to delay the rollout near some — but not all — airports, and it caused an uproar over fears that such equipment would affect the safety of aircraft and their passengers, Allison Morrow reported for CNN.
Photo Insert: La Guardia Airport, New York City
Amid the uncertainty over safety, several international airlines were scrambling to modify or cancel flights to the United States. Airlines have been pleading with the telecom companies to delay the rollout of next-generation 5G mobile technology, warning of potentially catastrophic consequences for air safety.
Airlines worry that 5G cellular antennas near airports could distort readings from radar altimeters, which tell pilots how far they are from the ground.
The telecom industry has said the fears are unfounded, citing successful 5G rollouts in 40 other countries but did not say that those countries are using other mitigating tactics to prevent interference, such as restricting the placement of 5G antennas near airfields and requiring them to be tilted downward to limit potential interference with aircraft.
The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has raised concerns that the 5G service could distort cockpit readings because it operates on a similar frequency as radar altimeters. In Europe, for example, the 5G service uses lower-range frequencies than in the US – so they can’t interfere with altimeters.
As for how to remedy the United States' woes, Nicholas Calio, president and CEO of Airlines for America, told CNN: "The fix basically is working out where the bandwidth is, the amount of power used, the tilt of the antennas, the placement of the antennas," he said.
"There are mitigations that can be put in place, it's just going to take time to do it. The fix can be almost immediate — tower by tower."