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FAA urges airlines to prepare for US C-Band 5G rollout

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The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has urged major airlines to address potential risks from C-Band 5G services set to launch around some airports next month.

Mid-range C-Band spectrum offers a compromise between the range and indoor penetration characteristics of low-range airwaves and the huge capacity offered by high-band frequencies.

AT&T and Verizon Wireless won C-Band licenses at an auction last year that raised $80 billion for the American government.

5G aviation threat 

However, the FAA is concerned that C-Band 5G could affect sensitive electronics, like altimeters, that rely on frequencies located between 4.2 and 4.4GHz. 

These fears are disputed by mobile operators, who nonetheless agreed to delay the launch of their respective services near some airports and introduce measures that mitigate any perceived issues, including airport buffer zones.

With operators set to resume deployment from July, the FAA has called on airlines to press ahead with retrofitting radio altimeters, warning that not all airports will continue with the safeguards introduced earlier this year.

The FAA added that it was also working with operators to minimise potential disruption, with both Verizon and AT&T planning to complete their rollouts by the end of 2023.

Mobile operators and industry bodies say there is no credible evidence of interference, noting that other countries have deployed C-Band 5G with no problems and that there is a sufficient spectrum gap between bandwidth allocated for mobile and for aviation. Others have questioned why the FAA waited so long before expressing is concerns.

Via Reuters (opens in new tab) 

Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.