5G Rollout Paused As Flights Cancelled Due To Safety Concerns
Two US mobile networks have paused the rollout of their 5G service amid concerns over disruption to flights, with many already cancelled or delayed.
For those fortunate enough to own technology capable of honing it, a 5G signal offers faster downloading and uploading with a massive network capacity – basically, it’s much quicker and bigger, meaning less buffering and network issues.
The UK, Europe and other areas of the world are already using 5G every day, with little in the way of problems. However, its rollout has sparked major fears in the US, with airlines warning ‘safety systems on aircraft will be deemed unusable’ and the ‘vast majority of the travelling and shipping public will essentially be grounded’.
The concerns over 5G come down to radio signals. The stronger connection uses radio frequencies in the C-Band spectrum, which fall close to those used by radio altimeters on planes, measuring the height of the aircraft above the ground – particularly vital as the aircraft comes into land.
If 5G signals interfere with these instruments, the problems could be catastrophic, the airlines have said, with an aviation body warning of the potential of ‘multiple fatalities, in the absence of appropriate mitigations’ should these failures occur.
AT&T and Verizon have agreed to postpone the expansion of their 5G service near key airports to allay the worries of airlines. This comes after 10 major firms, including United Airlines and Delta, sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), flagging a number of concerns about the technology, specifically its impact on Boeing 777 and 787 planes.
The airlines requested ‘that 5G be implemented everywhere in the country except within the approximate 2 miles (3.2 km) of airport runways’ at key airports, with ‘buffer zones’ already in place at more than 50 airports, including New York JFK and Los Angeles International.
President Joe Biden praised the agreement, believing it ‘will avoid potentially devastating disruptions to passenger travel, cargo operations, and our economic recovery, while allowing more than 90% of wireless tower deployment to occur as scheduled’, Reuters reports.
Federal Communications Commission Chair Jessica Rosenworcel also said that the FAA ‘has a process in place to assess altimeter performance in the 5G environment and resolve any remaining concerns. It is essential that the FAA now complete this process with both care and speed’.
While the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority earlier reported ‘there have been no confirmed instances where 5G interference has resulted in aircraft system malfunction or unexpected behaviour’, the US 5G network is around two-and-a-half times more powerful, according to the US, increasing the risk of interference.
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