Why is 5G rollout a problem near U.S. airports?

What are the differences in the way the technology is deployed in other countries and in America?

The rollout of the 5G ‘C-band’ spectrum (3.7 GHz-3.98 GHz) in the United States, on January 19, 2022 — after a pushback since December 2021 (the original rollout date) — led to several airlines, including Air India, temporarily cancelling their flights to the U.S. over fears of spectrum interference with crucial aircraft navigation systems. An aircraft type largely affected in this was the Boeing 777. The two major telecom firms concerned, Verizon and AT&T, also took cognisance of appeals by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and airlines about their worries, leading U.S. President Joe Biden to put out a statement on January 18, 2022. Called the “Statement by [U.S.] President [Joe] Biden on 5G Agreement”, he “wanted to thank Verizon and AT&T for agreeing to delay 5G deployment around key airports and to continue working with the Department of Transportation on safe 5G deployment at this limited set of locations.” It added, “… My team has been engaging non-stop with the wireless carriers, airlines, and aviation equipment manufacturers to chart a path forward for 5G deployment and aviation to safely co-exist – and, at my direction, they will continue to do so until we close the remaining gap and reach a permanent, workable solution around these key airports.” However, a spokesperson for one of the telecom firms concerned added: “We are frustrated by the FAA’s inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services, and we urge it to do so in a timely manner.”

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