FAA announces agreement with AT&T, Verizon on 5G expansion

Posted:
in General Discussion
The Federal Aviation Administration says it has reached an agreement with AT&T and Verizon to expand 5G service in a way that mitigates aircraft safety concerns.

An aircraft
An aircraft


The issue at hand is a planned rollout of new C-band spectrum that could bolster existing 5G coverage. Back in 2021, the FAA voiced concerns that the use of the spectrum by carriers like Verizon and AT&T could interfere with aircraft safety mechanisms.

On Friday, the FAA announced that it had reached an agreement with the carriers. Although AT&T and Verizon pledged to create a "buffer zone" of two miles around some airport runways, the new announcement suggests that the two sides were working on a longer-term solution.

In a statement, the FAA said it "appreciates" the strong communication and collaboration from telecom companies. It added that it provided more precise data about the location of wireless transmitters, as well as deeper dives into how 5G signals can interact with sensitive aircraft components.

"The F.A.A. used this data to determine that it is possible to safely and more precisely map the size and shape of the areas around airports where 5G signals are mitigated, shrinking the areas where wireless operators are deferring their antenna activations," the FAA said. "This will enable the wireless providers to safely turn on more towers as they deploy new 5G service in major markets across the United States."

In addition to the FAA, airlines have also expressed concerns about the 5G rollout. A joint letter signed by 13 major airline operators earlier in January warned of "catastrophic disruption" if the rollout continued as planned.

C-band spectrum is well-suited to aid in expanding 5G service in the U.S. The spectrum is currently used in countries like France with no reports of disruption to airline service.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 1,356member
    Please note that the 5G profile in France and similar countries in the EU are different because they use a fraction of the power US companies implementation ascribes to. 
    jas99williamlondonpatchythepirateGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 2 of 20
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,849member
    genovelle said:
    Please note that the 5G profile in France and similar countries in the EU are different because they use a fraction of the power US companies implementation ascribes to. 
    But there is also no evidence that it’s actually going to disrupt anything. Taking precautions is good, though. This seems reasonable.
    jas99longpath
  • Reply 3 of 20
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,615member
    Why do they actually need the C band at all? all the carriers were rolling out 5G before they had the additional frequencies. It seems like they could have just used other frequencies around the airports. 

    sdw2001 said:
    genovelle said:
    Please note that the 5G profile in France and similar countries in the EU are different because they use a fraction of the power US companies implementation ascribes to. 
    But there is also no evidence that it’s actually going to disrupt anything. Taking precautions is good, though. This seems reasonable.
    you're landing a plane with 300 passengers in a rain storm. Which do you prefer - "I think it's safe" or "I know it's safe"

    The tolerance for risk in the airline industry is close to zero - i can't blame them for being conservative.
    edited January 28 tmayapplguyGeorgeBMacmuthuk_vanalingamjas99
  • Reply 4 of 20
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 1,356member
    sdw2001 said:
    genovelle said:
    Please note that the 5G profile in France and similar countries in the EU are different because they use a fraction of the power US companies implementation ascribes to. 
    But there is also no evidence that it’s actually going to disrupt anything. Taking precautions is good, though. This seems reasonable.
    Think about it. Airplane mode on the iPhone was created because the cell phone signal could effect the equipment in the cockpit durning take offs and landings. The airlines know that this would not end well. 
  • Reply 5 of 20
    genovelle said:
    sdw2001 said:
    genovelle said:
    Please note that the 5G profile in France and similar countries in the EU are different because they use a fraction of the power US companies implementation ascribes to. 
    But there is also no evidence that it’s actually going to disrupt anything. Taking precautions is good, though. This seems reasonable.
    Think about it. Airplane mode on the iPhone was created because the cell phone signal could effect the equipment in the cockpit durning take offs and landings. The airlines know that this would not end well. 
    Can you site even a single instance of a military helicopter taking down an airliner with its millimeter wave radar? Such radar pushes substantially more power than any mobile phone on the market, and substantially more than a cell site; but you would have us believe that such measures are prudent without any evidence from existing systems in the same band, with substantially higher outputs are causing the kinds of problems that less powerful US telcos hope to implement. Please, show an example of a military helicopter with millimeter wave radar causing a problem on a commercial aircraft. I’m not even asking for an example of a crash. A simple documented case of interference is all I request. Just one.
    mike1
  • Reply 6 of 20
    fred1fred1 Posts: 935member
    sdw2001 said:
    genovelle said:
    Please note that the 5G profile in France and similar countries in the EU are different because they use a fraction of the power US companies implementation ascribes to. 
    But there is also no evidence that it’s actually going to disrupt anything. Taking precautions is good, though. This seems reasonable.
    I agree that it’s best to be safe, but I have to wonder why we were told for many years that we couldn’t use Bluetooth during flights and then that we could. Of course I know nothing about telecommunications or wavelength technology, just wondering.  
    mike1
  • Reply 7 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    sdw2001 said:
    genovelle said:
    Please note that the 5G profile in France and similar countries in the EU are different because they use a fraction of the power US companies implementation ascribes to. 
    But there is also no evidence that it’s actually going to disrupt anything. Taking precautions is good, though. This seems reasonable.

    What kind of evidence would satisfy you?    Does Verizon have to take down a 777?
  • Reply 8 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    MplsP said:
    Why do they actually need the C band at all? all the carriers were rolling out 5G before they had the additional frequencies. It seems like they could have just used other frequencies around the airports. 

    sdw2001 said:
    genovelle said:
    Please note that the 5G profile in France and similar countries in the EU are different because they use a fraction of the power US companies implementation ascribes to. 
    But there is also no evidence that it’s actually going to disrupt anything. Taking precautions is good, though. This seems reasonable.
    you're landing a plane with 300 passengers in a rain storm. Which do you prefer - "I think it's safe" or "I know it's safe"

    The tolerance for risk in the airline industry is close to zero - i can't blame them for being conservative.

    Verizon and AT&T sat on their butts while T-Mobile bought up wavelengths so they could roll out their 5G.
    Then when those two finally got their act together the only thing left available was C Band.  Now they're all pissy because C Band disrupts plane altimeters.

    AT&T is perhaps the worst:  They claimed to have rolled out 5G early on with their 5Ge -- which was really just a souped up version of 4G.  In other words, they tried to scam the nation.  It didn't work.  So now they're trying to play catch-up.

    It's what happens when a country places complete control of the infrastructure it relies on in the hands of for-profit corporations who don't give a damn about the nation -- or the safety of its airplanes.
    baconstang
  • Reply 9 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    Is this the same FAA who claimed the 737-Max was a safe airplane -- because Boeing said it was?
    12Strangers
  • Reply 10 of 20
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 401member
    Is this the same FAA who claimed the 737-Max was a safe airplane -- because Boeing said it was?
    All the more reason to be extra cautious. Airlines don’t fool around with safety and hope things will work out. Anecdotal stories mentioned by others are not science. 
    MplsP
  • Reply 11 of 20
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,615member
    longpath said:
    genovelle said:
    sdw2001 said:
    genovelle said:
    Please note that the 5G profile in France and similar countries in the EU are different because they use a fraction of the power US companies implementation ascribes to. 
    But there is also no evidence that it’s actually going to disrupt anything. Taking precautions is good, though. This seems reasonable.
    Think about it. Airplane mode on the iPhone was created because the cell phone signal could effect the equipment in the cockpit durning take offs and landings. The airlines know that this would not end well. 
    Can you site even a single instance of a military helicopter taking down an airliner with its millimeter wave radar? Such radar pushes substantially more power than any mobile phone on the market, and substantially more than a cell site; but you would have us believe that such measures are prudent without any evidence from existing systems in the same band, with substantially higher outputs are causing the kinds of problems that less powerful US telcos hope to implement. Please, show an example of a military helicopter with millimeter wave radar causing a problem on a commercial aircraft. I’m not even asking for an example of a crash. A simple documented case of interference is all I request. Just one.
    mmWave is a different area of the frequency spectrum and doesn't apply here.

     I did some more research and here's what I found:

    • Aircraft altimeters use 4.2-4.4 GHz
    • 5G mmWave: 24-54 GHz
    • 5G cBand: 3.3-4.2 GHz
    • 5G low band: <1GHz
    mmWave is only useful for close range, line of sight transmission. From what I understand, the low band was already allocated and being used. The c band is new spectrum that was auctioned off by the FCC in 2020-21 and is the source of the concern. The higher c band frequencies are immediately adjacent to the frequencies used by aircraft altimeters that are relied upon in inclement weather. If signal is strong enough it's possible to cause interference in adjacent bandwidth and the altimeters in older aircraft have less robust filters to filter out noise meaning they may be susceptible to interference from towers near the airport.

    The nature of radio frequencies is such that it's impossible to predict with certainty whether this will be an actual issue or not without doing extensive testing. For those that say "go ahead and see if it works," you need to consider the potential scenarios and consequences. The altimeters are used in inclement weather when the pilots can't clearly see the ground. The potential is a large commercial jet will be on final approach without clear visual of the ground and suddenly lose altimeter data at the most critical time period. 

    I don't know the distribution of the frequencies between the carriers, but since they were all rolling out 5G prior to acquiring the new bandwidth in 2021 I have to assume that the c band is not critical for 5G. Even if it is, ensuring a plane can land safely trumps someone's ability to stream Desperate Housewives, IMO. It's not like 4G hasn't worked at airports until now.

    edited January 29 GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 12 of 20
    Airlines really aren’t THAT cautious, let’s look at the Boeing 737 Max for example and that whole fiasco. They’re a company, who cut costs to increase their profit, period. The FAA and these airlines have had a decade to upgrade their systems to stop the poorly designed landing equipment from interfering on frequency’s it’s technically not allowed to operate on. Those aircraft control frequencies bleed into the C band that the FCC rightfully sold to the telecom companies. I would have sued the crap out of the airlines for their complacency in getting those systems up to date and operating in the correct frequency band.
    edited January 29 GeorgeBMac12Strangers
  • Reply 13 of 20
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,615member
    MrJToYou said:
    Airlines really aren’t THAT cautious, let’s look at the Boeing 737 Max for example and that whole fiasco. They’re a company, who cut costs to increase their profit, period. The FAA and these airlines have had a decade to upgrade their systems to stop the poorly designed landing equipment from interfering on frequency’s it’s technically not allowed to operate on. Those aircraft control frequencies bleed into the C band that the FCC rightfully sold to the telecom companies. I would have sued the crap out of the airlines for their complacency in getting those systems up to date and operating in the correct frequency band.
    that wasn't the airlines, that was Boeing - big difference. Once the airlines found out about the problem, they grounded the planes, and let's not forget that hundreds of people died first. It was also the FAA letting Boeing verify its software with inadequate oversight. Besides, wouldn't you think it's better to figure out a problem without killing a bunch of people?

    The aircraft equipment was designed and implemented before 5G was even around and long before the FCC auctioned off the airwaves so it's an issue of the C band bleeding into the aircraft frequencies, not the other way around. (in reality, it's just physics and the bureaucrats who make the decisions being ignorant.) The FAA is also separate from the FCC and has no control over their decisions or operations. 
    edited January 29 GeorgeBMacmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 14 of 20
    bonobobbonobob Posts: 325member
    MplsP said:
    Why do they actually need the C band at all? all the carriers were rolling out 5G before they had the additional frequencies. It seems like they could have just used other frequencies around the airports. 

    Because there is not enough capacity in the previously allocated bands for current use, never mind future growth.  So more bandwidth was allocated.  The C band also allows for higher data rates than do bands at lower frequencies.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 15 of 20
    bonobobbonobob Posts: 325member
    genovelle said:
    sdw2001 said:
    genovelle said:
    Please note that the 5G profile in France and similar countries in the EU are different because they use a fraction of the power US companies implementation ascribes to. 
    But there is also no evidence that it’s actually going to disrupt anything. Taking precautions is good, though. This seems reasonable.
    Think about it. Airplane mode on the iPhone was created because the cell phone signal could effect the equipment in the cockpit durning take offs and landings. The airlines know that this would not end well. 
    Yes, do think about it.  Millions of passengers fail to put their devices in airplane mode.  How many planes have been dropping out of the sky lately?
    fred1
  • Reply 16 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    jimh2 said:
    Is this the same FAA who claimed the 737-Max was a safe airplane -- because Boeing said it was?
    All the more reason to be extra cautious. Airlines don’t fool around with safety and hope things will work out. Anecdotal stories mentioned by others are not science. 

    Unless they're named "Boeing"
  • Reply 17 of 20
    jimh2 said:
    Is this the same FAA who claimed the 737-Max was a safe airplane -- because Boeing said it was?
    All the more reason to be extra cautious. Airlines don’t fool around with safety and hope things will work out. Anecdotal stories mentioned by others are not science. 

    Unless they're named "Boeing"
    Apparently you don't know the difference between an airline and an airplane manufacturer...
    MplsPfred1
  • Reply 18 of 20
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,615member
    bonobob said:
    MplsP said:
    Why do they actually need the C band at all? all the carriers were rolling out 5G before they had the additional frequencies. It seems like they could have just used other frequencies around the airports. 

    Because there is not enough capacity in the previously allocated bands for current use, never mind future growth.  So more bandwidth was allocated.  The C band also allows for higher data rates than do bands at lower frequencies.
    My point is they can have 5G service around the airports without using the C band frequencies, especially if it's a short term arrangement while they assess the safety implications.

    bonobob said:
    genovelle said:
    sdw2001 said:
    genovelle said:
    Please note that the 5G profile in France and similar countries in the EU are different because they use a fraction of the power US companies implementation ascribes to. 
    But there is also no evidence that it’s actually going to disrupt anything. Taking precautions is good, though. This seems reasonable.
    Think about it. Airplane mode on the iPhone was created because the cell phone signal could effect the equipment in the cockpit durning take offs and landings. The airlines know that this would not end well. 
    Yes, do think about it.  Millions of passengers fail to put their devices in airplane mode.  How many planes have been dropping out of the sky lately?
    Ok. I'm thinking about it. The first cellphone regulations were implemented in the era of analog phones and analog plane communication equipment where interference was an issue. Digital equipment behaves differently, but that's actually irrelevant here because we're talking about a new range of previously unused frequencies so past experience doesn't apply.

    Yes, please think about it.
    edited January 29 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 19 of 20
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,960member
    genovelle said:
    sdw2001 said:
    genovelle said:
    Please note that the 5G profile in France and similar countries in the EU are different because they use a fraction of the power US companies implementation ascribes to. 
    But there is also no evidence that it’s actually going to disrupt anything. Taking precautions is good, though. This seems reasonable.
    Think about it. Airplane mode on the iPhone was created because the cell phone signal could effect the equipment in the cockpit durning take offs and landings. The airlines know that this would not end well. 
    Yet it was all concern about nothing. Today you can use WiFi and Bluetooth on a plane. Does anyone really use airplane mode anymore to turn off only the cellular radio? Do they still even ask?
  • Reply 20 of 20
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,615member
    mike1 said:
    genovelle said:
    sdw2001 said:
    genovelle said:
    Please note that the 5G profile in France and similar countries in the EU are different because they use a fraction of the power US companies implementation ascribes to. 
    But there is also no evidence that it’s actually going to disrupt anything. Taking precautions is good, though. This seems reasonable.
    Think about it. Airplane mode on the iPhone was created because the cell phone signal could effect the equipment in the cockpit durning take offs and landings. The airlines know that this would not end well. 
    Yet it was all concern about nothing. Today you can use WiFi and Bluetooth on a plane. Does anyone really use airplane mode anymore to turn off only the cellular radio? Do they still even ask?
    Seriously? You completely fail to recognize the difference between knowing that there's no risk after it's been tested and guessing about the risk before. It's kind of like criticizing someone for not diving head first into a lake when they don't know how deep the water is after you've figured out it's 50 feet deep. 
    muthuk_vanalingam
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