Carriers Reject FAA Request for Another 5G C-Band Delay

Verizon and AT & T have turned down FAA requests for another 5G C-band delay but will implement the “exclusion zones.”

The battle between FAA and FCC, and Verizon, and AT & T has notched up more heat. The carriers have refused to comply with the FAA’s request to delay their C-band adoption for 5G network expansion.

The carriers had already pushed back their C-band expansion for one month at the request of the FAA.

Related: C-band 5G towers could affect planes: A Ruling By FAA States

Initially, the concerns were raised by FAA about possible interference from the C-band 5G frequency to the altimeters used by the airplanes. There are fears that the disturbances could compromise with the planes’ landing at times of low visibility.

FAA had earlier requested Verizon, and AT & T to delay their 5G expansion by two weeks. But its concerns have been shrugged off by the carriers as they plan on 5G in mid-band frequency imminently.

Recently, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and FAA Administrator Steve Dickson sent letters to the CEOs of both AT & T and Verizon asking them to keep their C-band launch on hold scheduled for January 5th. In the meantime, the regulators said they would analyze the situations, and notify flights, and pinpoint priority airports.

But Reuters is reporting the carriers who had ascended to a month-long delay have turned down the FAA request. Citing that such a system is already in place in France with no issues, they do commit not to deploy around particular airports for six months.

But it also says, that would depend “on the condition that the FAA and the aviation industry are committed to doing the same without escalating their grievances, unfounded as they are, in other venues.”

Why the Carriers are bent on C-band Spectrum?

Part of the urge to use the much-talked C-band emanates from the competitive 5G eco-system. Earlier this year, they made record-breaking investments on the said frequencies. Earlier this year, the two operators acquired their license for the so-called C-band spectrum for a mammoth $70 billion in combination. The telcos want to use those bands alongside low-band to diversify and improve their 5G services. Verizon uses Low-Band 5G for coverage across the US and mmWave band (28/39 GHz) for exceptional speed which it calls Ultra Wide Band 5G.

Meanwhile, AT & T still uses Low-Band frequency (850) for 5G which is ideal for coverage but flats out in speed. However, both of these bands don’t correspond to the desired expectations from the revolutionary technology. In comparison, T-Mobile uses mid-band 2.4 GHz which offers an exceptional combination of both range and broadband. The former two carriers want to cash in on the C-band (3.7 GHz – 3.98 GHz) to for their further5G expansions.

Related: 5G Spectrum Bands: What Do High, Mid, and Low Bands Mean?

What the Carriers say?

In the letter they sent to the FAA, the two carriers CEO said:

“Now, on the evening of New Year’s Eve, just five days before the C-Band spectrum will be deployed, we received your letter asking us to take still more voluntary steps – to the detriment of our millions of consumer, business, and government customers – to once again assist the aviation industry and the FAA after failing to resolve issues in that costly 30-day delay period, which we never considered to be an initial one.”

“At its core, your proposed framework asks that we agree to transfer oversight of our companies’ multi-billion dollar investment in 50 unnamed metropolitan areas representing the lion’s share of the U.S. population to the FAA for an undetermined number of months or years. Even worse, the proposal is directed to only two companies, regardless of the terms of licenses auctioned and granted, and to the exception of every other company and industry within the purview of the FCC.”

The carriers also say, “for six months, until July 5, 2022, we will adopt the same C-Band radio exclusion zones that are already in use in France, with slight adaptation to reflect the modest technical differences in how C-band is being deployed in the two countries. That approach – which is one of the most conservative in the world – would include extensive exclusion zones around the runways at certain airports. The effect would be to further reduce C-band signal levels by at least 10 times on the runway or during the last mile of final approach and the first mile after takeoff.”

Meanwhile, FAA hasn’t made a direct response to the carriers’ objection. It only said, “We are reviewing the latest letter from the wireless companies on how to mitigate interference from 5G C-band transmissions. U.S. aviation safety standards will guide our next actions.”

Check out: 5G Types, Variants, And 3GPP Releases

However, the situation could turn into a legal battle if a resolution is not found. Reuters says the Airlines for America that represents major American airlines could go to court on Monday if FCC doesn’t act on the C-band deployment.

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