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US Airlines Warn 5G at Airports Could Cause Chaos

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Major airlines are warning of disruptions over 5G technology near airports. Credit: Rickmouser45,  Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International/Wikipedia

The U.S’s largest airlines warned on Monday of “chaos” to their operations if telecommunication companies proceed with rolling out 5G technology without restricting the technology near airports.

The airlines want some 5G implementation, set to start on Wednesday, delayed near key airports in the US.

The CEO’s of major airlines said in a letter that the deployment of new 5G mobile internet technology could lead to the grounding of a number of flights due to interference from the technology, “potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas” and lead to “chaos” for US flights.

“We are writing with urgency to request that 5G be implemented everywhere in the country except within the approximate two miles of airport runways as defined by the FAA,” wrote chief executives of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and six other passenger and cargo carriers, reports AFP.

Airlines warn flights could be grounded

In the letter addressed to transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg and other top federal officials, the top executives warned that “unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially be grounded.”

AT&T — the world’s largest telecommunications company and the largest provider of mobile telephone services in the US — and Verizon, have already twice delayed the launch of their new C-Band 5G service, due to warnings from airlines and airplane manufacturers concerned that the new system might interfere with their ability to gauge altitude.

AT&T and Verizon had won nearly all of the C-band spectrum in an $80 billion auction last year.

The high-speed 5G internet uses so-called C-band frequencies close to those used by aircraft to measure their altitude, with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) warning potential interference could affect sensitive airplane instruments such as altimeters and significantly hamper low-visibility operations.

The two telecommunication companies argued that the airlines had years to upgrade the equipment that might be directly affected, reports the New York Times.

While some airlines on Monday were considering canceling some of the international flights scheduled to arrive on Wednesday, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee and the head of an aviation subcommittee have asked AT&T and Verizon to consider delaying some 5G deployments scheduled for Wednesday, around some US airport runways, reports AFP.

“Immediate intervention is needed to avoid significant operational disruption to air passengers, shippers, supply chain and delivery of needed medical supplies,” the letter said.


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