AT&T and Verizon have agreed to allow buffer zones around some US airports to lower the risk of disruption from potential interference once new 5G services in the C-Band spectrum were operational. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has published a list of 50 airports that will have buffer zones when services begin on January 19th, 2022.
The FAA stated in a statement that AT&T and Verizon had agreed to turn off transmitters and make other changes near airports for six months to reduce potential 5G interference with sensitive airplane equipment used in low-visibility landings.
The agency stated that it was seeking feedback from the aviation community on where the proposed buffer zones would assist lower the potential of disturbance. It explained that the selection was influenced by traffic volume, the number of low-visibility days, and geographic location.
The FAA also stated that it is continuing to collaborate with aerospace manufacturers and operators “to make 5G is deployed safely and to limit the risk of flight disruptions at all airports.”
Following concerns about potential interference with radio altimeters, Verizon and AT&T have agreed to a second delay of 5G in the C-Band frequency.
The operators pledged at the time that they would put in place “extensive exclusion zones around the runways at certain airports,” claiming that this would “reduce C-band signal levels by at least ten-times” during take-offs and final approaches.
Despite the new efforts, the issue continues to be contentious: According to Reuters, Kevin Burke, president and CEO of industry group Airports Council International-North America, said the FAA list “is largely irrelevant” because C-Band 5G “is widely used in and around airports.”