The FAA has issued its list of 50 airports that will be protected from Verizon and AT&T’s 5G signals for six months and the criteria it used suggests the list would have been a lot longer if the FAA had its way. The list was released Friday, a few days after the telecoms agreed to push back their major rollout of 5G cell service from Jan. 5 to Jan. 19 and to put buffer zones around a maximum of 50 airports picked by the FAA until next July 19.
The FAA said it chose the sites based not only on location and traffic, the agency also considered the likelihood of low visibility as a qualifying factor. Some of the country’s largest airports, like Atlanta Hartsfield, didn’t make the cut but some regional facilities like Fresno-Yosemite in California and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania did. Boeing Field in Seattle isn’t served by any major airline but it’s also on the list. The FAA is gambling that it can avoid major disruptions in the system while it works on a final solution to mitigate the potential interference of 5G with radar altimeters. T-Mobile hasn’t been asked to change its system because it doesn’t use frequencies that can interfere with aircraft avionics.