Senior leaders at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Commerce Department’s telecommunications unit met to discuss aviation safety concerns raised by new 5G C-Band deployments, two sources briefed on the meeting told Reuters on Tuesday.
FAA acting Administrator Billy Nolen and Alan Davidson, who heads the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), met virtually for about 30 minutes on Monday, the sources said. Last month, Nolen wrote the NTIA seeking a delay in some 5G C-Band transmissions from smaller operators over aviation safety concerns.
Nolen said in his Oct. 21 letter said the agency wants the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to mandate voluntary mitigations AT&T and Verizon agreed to earlier this year mandated for 19 smaller telecoms and other spectrum holders.
“Aviation safety would be compromised if the U.S. government does not codify certain additional operating limits in the 5G C-Band environment,” Nolen wrote.
Industry officials say the FAA has raised the idea of temporarily prohibiting deployment of some stations in the 3.8-3.9 MHz block and maintaining some existing power limits until January 2024.
The letter was sent to Davidson and FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel was copied.
Rosenworcel last week confirmed that she received the letter. “We are in discussions with our colleagues at the NTIA,” Rosenworcel said.
Concerns 5G service could interfere with airplane altimeters, which give data on a plane’s height above the ground and are crucial for bad-weather landing, led to disruptions at some U.S. airports earlier this year.
Verizon and AT&T in June voluntarily agreed to delay some C-Band 5G usage until July 2023 as air carriers work to retrofit airplanes to ensure that they will not face interference.
Airline CEOs on Jan. 17 had warned of an impending “catastrophic” aviation crisis that could ground almost all traffic because of the 5G deployment. A deal struck shortly before a January deadline did not prevent dozens of foreign carriers from canceling international flights to the United States. US News