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5G won’t be threat to aircraft in India: TRAI

Aircraft flying over India will not face any safety issues because of the upcoming 5G mobile services, telecom regulator TRAI has said, emphasising that the new age technology is “prima facie safe” for planes in the country.

The assurance comes at a time when there are growing concerns over the safety of aircraft flying in the US over fears of interference with navigation systems as a 5G network starts rolling out across the country. Several flights to the US have been cancelled or rescheduled as airlines fear that the 5G phone service could pose a risk to aircraft instruments, impacting some popular jets like Boeing 777.

“India will have no problems. Prima facie, there are no problems for the aviation industry within India over 5G spectrum rollout,” TRAI chairman P D Vaghela said.

Vaghela said while the distance between spectrum reserved for 5G and that for aircraft is very less in the US, the same is much wider when it comes to India.

The band for 5G in the US is from 3700-3980MHz, while the radio altimeters on the aircraft work in the 42004400MHz bands. The gap is only 220MHz, giving rise to fears of interference with navigation systems of aircraft. In India, however, the 5G bands run between 3300MHz and 3670MHz, making a gap of 530MHz with the frequency used by airlines. Vaghela said even though threats are missing in India, TRAI will have the issue examined in detail for a concrete assessment.

The Indian telecom industry also feels that there are no safety issues for airlines due to 5G. “Most of the concerns here are being driven by fear floating in the US. The fact is there is no need to panic in India, and there will not be any impact on the aviation operations over the Indian soil,” S P Kochhar, DG of Cellular Operators Association of India, said.

Kochhar said that India’s 5G bands mirror the frequencies allotted in markets across Europe, South Korea and Japan. “There have been 5G launches in these markets, and we have not come across any instance of interference with airline frequencies there. ”

He dubbed the concerns in India as more of “turf mongering” as the aviation industry in the country has also started raising fears following issues in the US.

The auctions for 5G spectrum in India are expected to happen later this year, following which the rollout will happen over the next 1-2 years. Pehal News

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