AT&T and Verizon reject request to delay 5G wireless plans

In a joint letter Sunday from AT&T and Verizon, the telecommunication corporations looked to dismiss concerns brought by U.S. airlines that 5G wireless service could harm aviation.

The letter was sent to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg as well as Steve Dickson, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Airlines had requested that the Federal Communications Commission delay this week’s planned 5G rollout claiming the service, which is set to launch on Wednesday, might interfere with electronics on which pilots rely.

Although the John Stankey, CEO of AT&T, and Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon Communications, wrote a letter to eliminate those concerns, they did say they were willing to accept some measures temporarily over the next six months to limit the service near some airport runways. 

Airlines for America, which is a trade group for large U.S. passenger and cargo carriers, claimed in an emergency filing that the FCC did not adequately consider the dangers that 5G wireless service could pose to the industry.

The group wants more time for the FCC and the FAA to resolve issues regarding aviation safety. Those concerns are related to a kind of 5G service that relies on portions of radio spectrum called C-Band. Wireless carriers spent billions of dollars last year buying up C-Band. 

Buttigieg and Dickson sided in part with the airlines and wrote late on Friday to AT&T and Verizon CEOs to suggest a delay in activating 5G C-Band service near several “priority airports” as the FAA investigates the possibility of interference with aircraft operations.

The telecommunications companies originally agreed to a one-month delay in 5G, which allows users to connect many devices to the internet without slowing it down. But the CEOs said on Sunday that additional delays would harm their customers.

“Agreeing to your proposal would not only be an unprecedented and unwarranted circumvention of the due process of checks and balances carefully crafted in the structure of our democracy,” the executives wrote, “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.” 




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