Pete Buttigieg, the U.S. secretary of transportation, and Steve Dickson, the FAA administrator, sent a letter to the heads of AT&T and Verizon on the evening of Jan. 3 in which they thank the mobile carrier chiefs for their agreement to delay initial deployment of 5G wireless services on C-band frequencies for two weeks, along with adopting some additional mitigations. The mitigations would be intended to offset potential interference from 5G transmitters to aviation navigation equipment, including altimeters in aircraft.
The two federal officials included with their letter a final term sheet with details of the terms of the agreement.
A statement the FAA issued said that the wireless companies have offered to implement a set of mitigations comparable to measures used in some European operating environments.
“While U.S. standards and operating environments are unique, we believe this could substantially reduce the disruptions to air operations,” the statement reads. “These additional mitigations will be in place for six months around 50 airports identified as those with the greatest impact to the U.S. aviation sector.”
AT&T said that it had, at Buttigieg’s request, voluntarily agreed to one additional two-week delay of our deployment of C-Band 5G services. The carrier said it remains committed to the six-month protection zone mitigations outlined the letter it sent to the secretary and the FAA administrator.
“We know aviation safety and 5G can coexist, and we are confident further collaboration and technical assessment will allay any issues,” AT&T said.
Verizon said it has agreed to a two-week delay that it said promises the certainty of bringing the United States what it called its game-changing 5G network in January, “delivered over America’s best and most reliable network.”
President Joe Biden issued a statement about the 5G deployment agreement in which he said that his aministration is committed to rapid 5G deployment, while minimizing disruptions to air operations and continuing to maintain the world’s safest airspace.
“Last night’s agreement is a significant step in the right direction, and we’re grateful to all parties for their cooperation and good faith,” Biden said. “This agreement ensures that there will be no disruptions to air operations over the next two weeks and puts us on track to substantially reduce disruptions to air operations when AT&T and Verizon launch 5G on January 19. For the last few months, my administration has been convening technical experts at the FAA, the FCC, and from the wireless and aviation industries to discuss a solution that allows the expansion of 5G and aviation to safely coexist, and I am pleased those efforts helped produce yesterday’s agreement. I want to thank Secretary Buttigieg, FAA Administrator Dickson, and FCC Chair Rosenworcel, as well as AT&T and Verizon and airline industry leaders, for their tireless work to ensure that the expansion of 5G and aviation can safely coexist.”
FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel reacted today to the agreement between the wireless carriers and the aviation industry to begin 5G deployment on Jan. 19.
“Last night’s agreement provides the framework and the certainty needed to achieve our shared goal of deploying 5G swiftly while ensuring air safety,” she said. “It was made possible by the FCC, DOT, FAA, the wireless companies and the aviation industry working together to share data, bring together technical experts, and collaborate in good faith to ensure the coexistence of wireless and aviation technologies.”