Referring to what they said would be an unprecedented and unwarranted circumvention of due process if they should agree to a request by Biden administration officials to delay their rollout of 5G wireless service on C-band radio frequencies, the heads of AT&T and Verizon rejected the request that Pete Buttigieg, the secretary of transportation, and the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Steve Dickson, sent to them on Dec. 31, 2021.
Replying in a letter on Jan. 2, John Stankey, CEO of AT&T, and Hans Vestberg, chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications, said that the framework Buttigieg and Dickson proposed for the delay asks that AT&T and Verizon agree to transfer oversight of their multibillion-dollar investment in 50 unnamed metropolitan areas representing the lion’s share of the U.S. population to the FAA for an undetermined number of months or years.
“Even worse, the proposal is directed to only two companies, regardless of the terms of licenses auctioned and granted, and to the exception of every other company and industry within the purview of the FCC,” the letter reads. “Agreeing to your proposal would not only be an unprecedented and unwarranted circumvention of the due process and checks and balances carefully crafted in the structure of our democracy, but an irresponsible abdication of the operating control required to deploy world-class and globally competitive communications networks that are every bit as essential to our country’s economic vitality, public safety and national interests as the airline industry.”
However, in the spirit of cooperation, the heads of the two companies wrote, their companies would volunteer to alter their use of the C-Band spectrum a six-month period, unless they and the FAA determine that the voluntary limits should be relaxed sooner.
“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 letter reads. “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. This is over and above the protections we already committed to put in place around airports that were detailed in the letter to the FCC on Nov. 24th, 2021 — protections that the FCC referred to as among ‘the most comprehensive efforts in the world to safeguard aviation technologies.’ As you know, U.S. aircraft currently fly in and out of France every day with thousands of U.S. passengers and with the full approval of the FAA. As a result, France provides a real-world example of an operating environment where 5G and aviation safety already co-exist. The laws of physics are the same in the United States and France. If U.S. airlines are permitted to operate flights every day in France, then the same operating conditions should allow them to do so in the United States.”
Meanwhile, in a tweet sent on Jan 1. that included a copy of a letter he sent to Buttigieg, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said that nearly 40 countries have turned on 5G wireless communications service on C-band spectrum, yet the Biden administration is working to needlessly delay C-band operations in the United States. He said that step only would undermine America’s 5G leadership and the mid-band work accomplished over the past few years — mid-band refers to the C-band radio-frequency spectrum.
“The Biden administration is not asking for a two-week delay; they’re demanding an indefinite halt in what appears to be every major market,” Carr said. “The Department of Transportation’s irregular, eleventh-hour tactics — 660 days after the FCC resolved these issues — do not reflect competent decision-making, but gamesmanship. It is incorrect to say that there are unresolved safety concerns that would benefit from additional time. The expert agency charged by Congress with making precisely these types of determinations (the FCC), resolved them years ago in a thorough, 258-page decisional document.”
Carr said that based on expert engineering analysis, the FCC included what he called a massive guard band to protect aviation that was two times as large as the one certain aviation advocates originally asked for. In addition, he said it would be twice as large as even that conservatively sized guard band, because wireless carriers operate their systems are in the lower portion of the frequency band.
“The FCC’s decision is not just grounded in science, engineering, and facts, it is backed by the aviation industry’s own, real-world experiences flying safely every day into nearly 40 countries that have live C-Band operations today,” Carr said.
Don Bishop is executive editor and associate publisher of AGL Magazine.
Pete Buttigieg, the secretary of transportation, and Steve Dickson, the Federal Aviation Administration administrator, sent a letter on Dec. 31, 2021, to the heads of AT&T and Verizon, asking them to extend a delay of their companies’ launch of 5G wireless communications service in radio-frequency spectrum known as C-band, at least in areas near what they called priority airports. The companies had been planning to start using the frequencies, the rights to which they purchased in an FCC auction, on Jan. 5.
“We recognize the significant investment your companies made to launch 5G C-band service, and the importance of expanding 5G service for the American economy,” a letter from the two officials reads. “At the same time, absent further action, the economic stakes for the aviation industry and the disruptions the traveling public would face from commercial launch of C-Band service on Jan. 5 are significant, particularly with the ongoing stress and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Accordingly, we seek to build on our productive discussions by offering the attached proposal as a near-term solution for advancing the co-existence of 5G deployment in the C-Band and safe flight operations.”
The letter said that under the framework in the proposal, commercial C-band service would begin as planned in January with certain exceptions around priority airports. The FAA and the aviation industry would identify priority airports where a buffer zone would permit aviation operations to continue safely while the FAA completes its assessments of the interference potential around those airports, the letter reads.
“Our goal would then be to identify mitigations for all priority airports that will enable the majority of large commercial aircraft to operate safely in all conditions,” the officials said. “This will allow for 5G C-band to deploy around these priority airports on a rolling basis, such that C-Band planned locations will be activated by the end of March 2022, barring unforeseen technical challenges or new safety concerns. Meanwhile, the FAA will safely expedite the approvals of Alternate Means of Compliance (AMOCs) for operators with high-performing radio altimeters to operate at those airports.”
The action Buttigieg and Dickson took in writing to the heads of the two wireless carriers followed Airlines for America’s Dec. 30, 2021, filing with the FCC of an emergency request to delay the rollout of 5G wireless service. A membership organization, Airlines for America represents North American airlines. Referring to the potential for harmful interference to aviation navigation systems that use C-band frequencies, Airlines for America said that the FCC “has never provided a reasoned analysis of why it has rejected the evidence submitted by the aviation interests,” as reported by Bloomberg News.
As cited by the news website The Hill, Bloomberg said that the wireless companies agreed to roll out the 5G service at reduced power for a temporary amount of time in order to compromise with airline groups, but Airlines for America said that would not be enough.
As first responders continued emergency response efforts in communities across multiple states following devastating tornadoes during the third week in December, the Verizon Response Team deployed in support of local public safety agencies to ensure they have the mission-critical communications capabilities they need.
This support, provided at no cost to the responding agencies and lasting as long as there is a need, is the latest in a series of 2021 deployments during which the Verizon Response Team delivered Verizon Frontline technology to first responders as they dealt with crises ranging from extreme weather events and wildfires to the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A year of unique challenges, 2021 saw the Verizon Response Team deploy more than 1,000 times to just over 700 communities across the country.
During these deployments, the team provided public safety agencies with nearly 9,000 Verizon Frontline devices and solutions ranging from repeaters, mobile hotspots, routers, smart devices and drones to dozens of deployable satellite solutions such as satellite picocells on trailers (SPOTs). The number of solutions provided this year surpasses last year’s mark by more than 3,000 and represents a new high for the Verizon Response Team.
Beginning with a deployment to help provide communications capabilities for public safety agencies supporting the 2021 presidential inauguration — the Verizon Response Team’s first major deployment of the year — and lasting through current emergency response efforts, the 15 Verizon Response managers on this team continue to demonstrate Verizon Frontline’s lasting commitment to the first responder community. Other major response efforts this year included:
To help enable mission-critical voice and data service during fire mitigation efforts in locations from California and Colorado to Montana and Minnesota, the Verizon Response Team delivered close to 2,000 Verizon Frontline solutions to nearly 200 communities in 2021.
One of the 128 named wildfires the Verizon Response Team responded to, the Caldor Fire was among the largest wildfires in California history, burning more than 220,000 acres across El Dorado, Amador and Alpine counties between Aug. 14 and Oct. 21.
During 2021, the Verizon Response Team supported public safety agencies and the communities they serve during four major hurricanes: Ida, Henri, Nicholas and Elsa. Hurricane Ida led to a nationwide activation of the Verizon Response Team and saw 1,100 Verizon Frontline solutions delivered to nearly 70 public safety agencies as they dealt with the aftermath of the storm.
Since the vaccine began rolling out, Verizon Frontline solutions have been deployed in support of 158 agencies at various vaccination and testing sites. In 2021, the Verizon Response Team assisted public safety agencies with network support and loaned nearly 1,500 devices to partners in 73 cities including Los Angeles where, earlier this year, the Verizon Response Team provided support at Dodger Stadium, one of the nation’s largest mega-vaccination sites.
In June, following the collapse of the Champlain Towers in Surfside, Florida, at the request of public safety officials on the scene, the Verizon Response Team delivered the advanced platforms and technology of Verizon Frontline to help facilitate interagency communication and assist the local community.
The Verizon Response Team has also deployed Verizon Frontline solutions in support of disaster response training exercises across the country including to PATRIOT 21, a week-long training exercise sponsored by the National Guard Bureau (NGB) at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center and the Fort McCoy Total Force Training Center, Wisconsin. The annual exercise brings National Guard soldiers and airmen, civilian emergency management personnel, first responders and industry partners like Verizon together to practice incident response operations based on simulated emergency scenarios.
During 2021, the Verizon Response Team also assisted in multiple search and rescue operations, winter weather and flooding emergency response efforts, and supported public safety agencies during major public events such as concerts and conventions.
Verizon Frontline is the advanced network and technology built for first responders, developed over nearly three decades of partnership with public safety officials and agencies, to meet their unique needs.
The Verizon Response Team provides on-demand, emergency assistance during crisis situations to government agencies, emergency responders, nonprofits and communities continuously. Verizon Response Team members set up portable cell sites, Wi-Fi hotspots, free charging stations and other Verizon Frontline devices and solutions that enable communications and/or boost network performance.
Vuzix, a company that supplies smart glasses and augmented reality (AR) technology and products, said that it has entered into an agreement with Verizon to use its 5G wireless communications and edge computing technologies to deliver an augmented reality experience for sports and gaming.
The company said its agreement with Verizon focuses on the technology advancement and commercialization aspects of delivering immersive augmented reality training experiences supported by Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband service and edge compute platform and Vuzix Shield smart glasses. The agreement would use a proof-of-concept program completed earlier this year that Vuzix said demonstrated the capability of Verizon’s 5G and edge computing platform to run applications at the edge of the network using Vuzix smart glasses to deliver improved response time, longer battery life and increased computing capacity.
Using Verizon’s 5G Edge and ultra-light weight AR smart glasses from Vuzix delivers immersive technology in the field of sports training and fan experience, said Brian Mecum, vice president of device technology at Verizon.
“5G and edge compute are important elements to ultimately deliver low latency and optimal performance of powerful smart glasses-based applications,” said Paul Travers, president and CEO at Vuzix.
Verizon and Google Cloud are working together to bring the power of the cloud closer to mobile and connected devices at the network edge, according to Verizon.
“With Verizon 5G Edge with Google Distributed Cloud Edge, Verizon plans to bring Google’s compute and storage services to the edge of the local network enabling the bandwidth and low latency needed to support real-time enterprise applications like autonomous mobile robots, intelligent logistics and factory automation,” a statement from Verizon reads. “The companies expect that this combination of Verizon’s private On Site 5G and private 5G Edge with Google Distributed Cloud Edge will enable enterprises in industries from retail to manufacturing to unlock the power of 5G and mobile edge computing and gain operational efficiencies, higher levels of security and reliability, and improved productivity.”
Verizon and Google Cloud also plan to develop public 5G mobile edge computing for developers and enterprises, the wireless carrier said. It said that the public 5G Edge solution has the potential to enable developers to build and deploy applications at the edge of Verizon’s wireless network in various locations throughout the United States.
“By working with partners like Google Cloud and Ericsson, we’re building the 5G edge compute ecosystem that will enable enterprises in many industries to benefit from having a completely dedicated private network and edge compute infrastructure on premise,” said Rima Qureshi, chief strategy officer at Verizon. “5G Edge with Google Distributed Cloud Edge will give our customers the ability to connect and manage a broad range of devices at scale and speed while also providing highly secure, near real-time connectivity. This will allow companies to unlock greater value from data and enable innovative applications involving computer vision, augmented and virtual reality, and machine learning.”
Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud, said that his company’s infrastructure and expertise in data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning is enabling the rapid development and deployment of new services and applications.
“By bringing intelligence from data centers to the network edge, Verizon 5G Edge with Google Distributed Cloud Edge will allow customers to build new cross-industry edge solutions, unlock new revenue models and transform the next generation of customer experiences,” Kurian said. “From AI-driven in-store operations to live inventory management on the factory floor, the possibilities span multiple industries.”
Verizon said that Ericsson would collaborate with it to pilot 5G Edge with Google Distributed Cloud Edge as part of a proof of concept at Ericsson’s USA 5G Smart Factory. It said that the first trial use case involves Verizon’s Sensor Intelligence solution, which involves attaching a camera to an autonomous mobile robot that will scan packages to maintain inventory and location of indirect materials in the factory’s warehouse. Then, using computer vision, the robot will communicate the bar code and shipping label data via 5G and mobile edge computing to the inventory management system, providing real-time analytics to improve logistics, Verizon said.
“Ericsson’s Smart Factory is where we’re putting the principles of the Fourth Industrial Revolution into action,” said Niklas Heuveldop, president and head of Ericsson North America. “Technologies like Verizon’s 5G Edge, which is built on Ericsson’s 5G private network technology, are critical for unlocking 5G’s true potential, and this pilot brings real-time data to make operations more efficient, secure and cost-effective. Testing this technology with autonomous mobile robots in our Smart Factory is an important step on the journey to the factory of the future.”