Explainer-Does 5G telecom pose a threat to aviation safety?

(Reuters) – CEOs of major U.S. passenger and cargo airlines warned of a “catastrophic” aviation crisis this week as AT&T and Verizon roll out new 5G services.

It said the new C-band 5G service set to begin Wednesday could render a significant number of planes unusable, cause chaos for US flights and potentially make Tens of thousands of Americans abroad are stranded.

Here is the basis of the dispute:


The US auctioned mid-range 5G bandwidth to mobile phone companies in early 2021 in the 3.7-3.98 GHz band on the so-called C-band spectrum, for about $80 billion.


The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has warned that new 5G technology could interfere with devices such as altimeters, which measure the distance on the ground that an aircraft is in flight. Auctioned frequencies are too close to this range.

In addition to altitude, altimeter readings are also used to facilitate automatic landings and help detect dangerous currents known as wind shears.

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said last month the FAA’s 5G directives would ban the use of radio altimeters at about 40 of the largest US airports.

US airlines have warned the directive could disrupt up to 4% of daily flights.

If left unaddressed, that could mean that at major US airports in the event of bad weather, cloud cover or even heavy fog, “you can just do the following,” Kirby said. intuitive approach.”


The higher the frequency in the spectrum, the faster the service. So to get the full value out of 5G, operators want to operate at higher frequencies.

Some of the C-band spectrum at auction is already used for satellite radio, but the transition to 5G means more traffic.


Verizon and AT&T have argued that C-band 5G has been rolled out in about 40 other countries without issues of airline interference.

They agreed to buffer around 50 airports in the United States, similar to those used in France, for six months to reduce the risk of interference.


The European Union in 2019 set standards for mid-range 5G frequencies in the 3.4-3.8 GHz range, which is lower than the service frequencies established for deployment in the United States. The bandwidth has been auctioned off in Europe and is used in many of the bloc’s 27 member states so far without issue.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which oversees the 31 states, said on December 17 that the issue only concerns US airspace. It said: “At this stage, no unsafe jamming risk has been identified in Europe.

FAA officials have noted that the spectrum used by France (3.6-3.8 GHz) is further from the spectrum (4.2-4.4 GHz) used for altimeters in the United States. and France’s energy levels for 5G are much lower than those allowed in the United States. Statuses.

Verizon has said it won’t be using spectrum closer to the higher band for several years.

In South Korea, the 5G mobile communication frequency is in the 3.42-3.7 GHz band and there have been no reports of radio interference since the commercialization of 5G in April 2019.

Currently, 5G mobile communication wireless stations are operating near airports, but there have been no reports of incidents.

“Wireless service providers in nearly 40 countries across Europe and Asia are currently using C-band for 5G, with no reported impact on radio altimeters operating in the same the 4.2-4.4 GHz band is internationally designated,” CTIA, an American wireless trade group, said in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission.

(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington, Toby Sterling in Amsterdam, Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm, Joyce Lee in Seoul, Tim Hepher in Paris; editing by Grant McCool and Jason Neely)

https://whbl.com/2022/01/18/explainer-do-5g-telecoms-pose-a-threat-to-airline-safety-2/ Explainer-Does 5G telecom pose a threat to aviation safety?

James Brien

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