• Wed. May 11th, 2022

AT&T and Verizon are at war with the airline industry over 5G security

As conspiracy theorists spread wildly false claims about the spread of COVID-19 by 5G or “spontaneous combustion of human beings”, the airline industry is concerned about a more reasonable problem: how 5G could potentially screw your flight.

Earlier this month, major mobile carriers AT&T and Verizon reported a huge new rollout of 5G services across the United States. Why? Airlines had serious concerns that this new extended 5G network could interfere with aircraft systems.

The date for this new 5G rollout was initially postponed to Wednesday, January 19.

While the broader rollout of 5G still appears to be moving forward, AT&T and Verizon both announced today – a day before the new January 19 date – that they would be indefinitely postponement of 5G service around a number of airports in the country.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has warned that the new deployment of the 5G network could lead to potential safety problems for aircraft.

“Because the proposed deployment of 5G involves a new combination of power levels, frequencies, proximity to flight operations, and other factors, the FAA will need to impose restrictions on flight operations using certain types of devices. ‘radar altimeter equipment near antennas in 5G networks’, Explain the FAA on a website the agency has set up specifically for the current 5G issue.

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the decision delaying the activation of new cell towers around an undisclosed number of runways came after major protests and rejection from some of the country’s largest airlines. The CEOs of American Airlines, Delta, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines warned on Monday that flights could come to a halt due to the new rollout of 5G service.

“Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of travelers and shippers will be essentially grounded,” the CEOs said in a public statement first reported by Reuters.

Airline executives have warned that this issue, if left unaddressed, “could also strand tens of thousands of Americans abroad.”

In fact, a number of international airlines have already changed their schedules.

Air India, Emirates, Air India, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airlines have all announced that they have canceled flights to the United States due to security concerns related to the rollout of 5G.

The root cause of the problem between airlines and telcos: C-band.

Verizon and AT&T’s new rollout will enable the use of C-band frequencies for 5G. This frequency range was previously reserved for large TV satellites. However, in March 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) updated its rules to allow the use of C-band for future technologies, such as 5G. As PCMag points out, currently 5G in the US is no faster than the previous generation of wireless service, LTE. However, C-band can solve the problem as it can offer faster speeds and cover larger areas.

It’s a big deal, though. The airline industry is concerned about potential safety issues, as aircraft radio altimeters – a device that measures altitude – operate on C-band frequencies. If 5G interferes with these signals, it could be difficult for a pilot to measure the distance between an airplane and the ground. These problems can be especially exacerbated when an aircraft tries to land in heavy rain, snow or fog.

The Biden administration has worked with telecommunications companies and airlines to find a compromise. According to a CNN source, the negotiations are “focusing on establishing a buffer at major airports, allowing approximately 90% of 5G towers to be deployed.”

Officials believe this strategy could help avoid cancellations and minimize the impact felt by travelers.

Travel insurance company InsureMyTrip has reported an increase in calls from customers asking for information about 5G cancellations.

“InsureMyTrip’s Customer Service Call Center has received multiple inquiries regarding this potential issue,” the company said in a statement provided to Mashable. “The planned rollout of 5G technology at midnight raises fears that it could create major issues with flights.”

So while 5G certainly won’t make you sick, if you’re a traveler it might cause you a few headaches over the coming days and weeks.