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DGCA rejects telecom’s airport 5G plan over flight safety concerns

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has rejected a proposal by telecom operators to provide 5G services within airport premises using low radio frequency power output.

The proposal was rejected due to concerns that the frequency could interfere with aircraft altimeters and cause disruptions. An altimeter is an instrument that provides direct height-above-terrain information to various aircraft systems.

Telecom operators had proposed to provide 5G services within airports without transmitting any signal to the airstrip or the runway.

However, the DGCA is replacing all aircraft altimeters to avoid interference and does not want to take any risk that could endanger the lives of passengers.

Therefore, it does not want to talk about any low-powered connectivity solution as well within the airport building. In November last year, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had asked telcos not to operate 5G base stations in the area of 2.1 km from both ends of runways, and 910 m from the center line of runways.

Earlier this year, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) had asked the DGCA to direct airlines to complete the replacement of altimeters in 18 months from 1 September 2023.

However, officials said that it could take at least two years as there is a heavy load on both aircraft and gear makers to fulfil the demands of the US and European markets for replacing the altimeters. Experts said the 3300-3670 MHz band for 5G services allotted to telcos will not cause any interference with the aircraft altimeters. Government sources said it may allow signals to interfere with the frequency of 3670 MHz, which is far away from the 4200 MHz band not auctioned in the country. BW Businessworld

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