Airlines, airports and the U.S. government have been at odds over the imminent switch to 5G phone technology, which was planned to take place throughout the U.S. on Jan. 18. The problem is that the 5G waves are similar to the radio frequencies used by airline altimeters and the aviation industry fears this will result in possible interference that will cause equipment malfunctions and flight cancellations. The altimeter is crucial to pilot navigation in poor weather conditions.
With only hours to go before 5G was due to be rolled out throughout the United States, the White House reached an agreement with AT&T and Verizon not to turn on the new technology within two miles of U.S. airports.
Airlines for America President and CEO Nicholas Calio, in A4A’s daily newsletter, acknowledged the Biden administration’s actions to avoid “catastrophic disruption to the traveling and shipping public, the global supply chain and the US economy,” which would have occurred as a result of the planned launch of new 5G service around airports.
Calio discussed the agreements the White House reached on Tuesday with AT&T and Verizon in an interview with CNN International saying, “we’re in a good place right now,” but noted “we’ve got a lot of work to do, and everyone has to keep doing this work with a sense of urgency to get it done so planes can keep flying and we can deploy 5G at the same time. This isn’t something that’s going to go away overnight, and it’s going to take a lot of cooperation from all the different parties to get this done.”
Some international flights had already been delayed or canceled flights before Tuesday’s announcement. TMI will provide more information on this developing story in the next issue.