Buttigieg Blocks 5G Network Deployment

Recently, Verizon and AT&T indicated that they will delay plans for deploying new 5G wireless service for a period of two weeks. The companies’ decision emerges in response to a request from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who referenced concerns from the airline industry over the potential interference that 5G networks could have upon planes’ systems.

The AT&T and Verizon announcement effectively reversed the companies’ decision from just one day earlier, wherein they vowed the reject any efforts to postpone their new 5G service offerings.

In a statement released on Monday night, AT&T also reaffirmed its pledge to continue reducing the power of networks surrounding airports. This approach, which is commonly used in France, is suggested for a period of six months, which will provide regulators with the opportunity to study possible interference with aviation that may arise.

“We know aviation safety and 5G can co-exist and we are confident further collaboration and technical assessment will allay any issues,” AT&T declared.

In addition, Verizon also remarked that a delay of two weeks will help ensure “the certainty” of rolling out the planned 5G service later in the month of January.

Previously, Verizon and AT&T had planned to launch their new 5G service on January 5 across multiple cities in the United States.

However, this past Friday, Buttigieg, along with Stephen Dickson, who serves as the head of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), requested for the companies to consider delaying their C-band 5G rollout for a period of two weeks. The Transportation Secretary and FAA Head warned that “unacceptable disruption” to aviation may occur as a result of the 5G rollout, including widespread cancellations or flight diversions to other cities, as well as possible risks to air safety.

The warning from the officials also follows a request from a major airline trading group, Airlines for America, to delay the planned rollout of 5G networks. The group informed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that the use of C-band 5G near dozens of airports could significantly interfere with devices measuring the height of an airplane above the ground.

Airlines for America also indicated that it had raised the issue with relevant officials before, though the group was given limited attention from the FCC.

The central conflict between airlines and telecommunications companies centers on a 5G service that relies upon various chunks of radio spectrum referred to as C-Band. Wireless carriers spent multiple billions of dollars purchasing these elements of the radio spectrum over the past year.