With the activation of C-Band frequencies by AT&T and Verizon, millions of Americans can now use upgraded 5G networks. The long-awaited rollout began on January 19. However, both companies temporarily postponed plans for 5G networks near certain airports. This is in response to complaints from the Federal Aviation Administration and multiple airlines. They complained regarding 5G repeater interference affecting airline radio altimeters.
New wireless technologies and standards always came with some technical complications and setbacks. When the GSM system launched, hearing aids buzzed and popped with static. Early cell phone frequencies also caused problems by occasionally disrupting pacemakers.
First implemented in 2019, 5G stands for the fifth generation and refers to the most recent cellular service standard. 5G uses radio waves shot at local cell towers at broadband speeds up to 10Gb/s. It is to access the internet and telephone network, comparable to 4G. However, because 5G rollout uses the C band spectrum, there’s a potential it’ll interfere with radio altimeters. It is especially common in older units that don’t have enough RF shielding.
Now, as carriers roll out 5G rollout networks across the country, a catastrophic risk emerges. For instance, 5G’s spectrum bands might interfere with radio altimeters on commercial planes flying below 2,500 feet. It might lead to automatic landing controls underestimating the ground’s distance and crash.
The landing is one of the most critical aspects of a flight. As a result, the FAA and the FCC debated how, when, and where 5G implementation is secure. It led to a setback to the 5G rollout plans. The FAA governs air travel in the United States. On the other hand, the FCC oversees the use of the US telecommunications spectrum.