FAA reveals 50 airports that will have 5G C-band buffer zones

When AT&T and Verizon’s 5G C-band services go live on January 19, they will set up buffer zones around 50 airports in the United States to reduce the risk of disruption to flights. The Federal Aviation Administration has published a listing (PDF) of the 50 airports it has chosen, which include major passenger hubs such as Chicago O’Hare International, Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles Int’l. Like The Wall Street Journal Note, it also includes airports in foggy and cloudy places like Seattle-Tacoma International, as well as cargo hubs like Indianapolis Int’l.

Operators were supposed to roll out their 5G service using their newly purchased frequencies on January 5, but they agreed to comply with the FAA and Transportation Department’s request to delay their expansion for another two weeks. Authorities intend to use the extra time to investigate concerns that the new frequencies are too close to those used by aircraft radar altimeters. The devices measure the distance between the plane and the ground to help planes land in poor visibility and bad weather. Wireless companies deny that using C-band frequencies for 5G will disrupt aviation.

The FAA has said Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and some of the other busiest airports in the United States are not on the list because they are far from areas where new 5G services are deployed. Meanwhile, other major airports are also not included as they are deemed far enough away from the nearest 5G towers.

Airlines for America, the association that represents major North American airlines, said Reuters and The post office in a statement that she appreciates the “FAA’s efforts to implement mitigation measures for airports that could be most affected by the disruption generated by the deployment of the new 5G service.” However, Kevin Burke, CEO of the Airports Council International-North America airport business group, is less than satisfied. Burke said the list is “largely irrelevant as the entire aviation system is about to be affected by this poorly planned and coordinated expansion of 5G service in and around airports.”

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