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AT&T/Verizon reject plea for 5G delay; airlines threaten mass flight cancelations

A person on an airplane using a smartphone to take a photo through the window.

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AT&T and Verizon yesterday rejected a Federal Aviation Administration request to further delay a 5G rollout on C-Band frequencies but said they will adopt one of the world’s “most conservative” power limits near airports for six months after the planned January 5 deployment. This is in addition to other voluntary limits the carriers recently announced even though it has been almost two years since the Federal Communications Commission determined that use of the spectrum should not interfere with properly designed airplane altimeters.

“Specifically, for six months, until July 5, 2022, we will adopt the same C-Band radio exclusion zones that are already in use in France, with slight adaptation to reflect the modest technical differences in how C-Band is being deployed in the two countries,” the carriers said in yesterday’s letter. “That approach—which is one of the most conservative in the world—would include extensive exclusion zones around the runways at certain airports. The effect would be to further reduce C-Band signal levels by at least 10 times on the runway or during the last mile of final approach and the first mile after takeoff.”

The exclusion zones in France are 910×2100 meters, the letter said. AT&T and Verizon said they will use bigger exclusion zones with “an additional 540m on all four sides to accommodate” the higher power levels permitted in the US.

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