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Boeing, airlines: ‘Significant time’ needed to resolve 5G spectrum issue

The aviation industry told the White House on Tuesday it will take “significant time” to ensure it is safe for major U.S. wireless companies to use C-Band spectrum for 5G communications.

In a letter sent to the White House, Boeing Co, Airbus SE, U.S. airlines, pilots and others said they need the Biden administration and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “to help aviation and telecommunication industries reach acceptable mitigations.”

Last week, AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications agreed to delay by a month the commercial launch of C-band wireless service from Dec. 5 until early January.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a bulletin last week alerting manufacturers, operators and pilots that action may be needed to address potential interference with sensitive aircraft electronics caused by the 5G deployment.

The FAA said operators “should be prepared for the possibility that interference from 5G transmitters and other technology could cause certain safety equipment to malfunction, requiring them to take mitigating action that could affect flight operations.”

The White House did not immediately comment but has been heavily involved in the issue – and even reviewed the FAA safety bulletin before it was cleared for release, officials said.
The letter said the aerospace industry would work to develop new standards, equipment, and aircraft/helicopter integration solutions but that they “require more detailed knowledge of the C-Band deployment and will take significant time to ensure they meet the FAA’s robust safety requirements.”

The letter urged the White House to work with the FCC and FAA “to convene a joint industry working group and continue to delay the deployment” until air safety is assured.

The bulletin said “there have not yet been proven reports of harmful interference due to wireless broadband operations internationally.”

Wireless trade group CTIA says 5G networks can safely use C-band spectrum “without causing harmful interference to aviation equipment,” and cited numerous active 5G networks using this spectrum band in 40 countries.” Reuters

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