The main event between corporate heavyweights—the airline and telecom industries— will have to hold off for another two weeks. Both sides today confirmed the agreement to delay launching the latter’s 5G network, in deference to the former’s concerns over mass flight cancellations due to safety concerns that the powerful broadband signals were close enough on the frequency range that they could corrupt airliners’ radar altimeters. Those altimeters are critical to extreme low-visibility approaches, including autoland procedures.
In a prepared statement, Rich Young, Verizon spokesperson, said, “We’ve agreed to a two-week delay which promises the certainty of bringing this nation our game-changing 5G network in January delivered over America’s best and most reliable network,” echoed by AT&T, which said its network would implement additional protective measures at vulnerable airports over the next six months.
Officials from the airline industry cited the resemblance of their mitigation recommendations to those already implemented in France. That is, limiting or cutting power involving 5G service providers in sensitive areas.
With the telecom giants refusing on Monday to consider the delay, trade group Airlines for America (A4A) had prepared a lawsuit to block the launch of the broadband services. That lawsuit is now shelved, at least temporarily. But A4A said they are keeping their hands close to that shelf, should the telecom giants reevaluate. The infrastructure for their 5G networks has cost AT&T and Verizon in excess of $80 billion to date.