SAN DIEGO – Two of the world’s largest telecommunication companies are delaying the rollout of 5G service near some airports, including the San Diego International Airport.
Both Verizon and AT&T on Tuesday said they’re limiting or delaying the launch of its 5G networks amid pushback from airlines who want the new service banned within two miles of runways, according to the Associated Press. Verizon told FOX 5 once it flips the switch for 5G Wednesday, it will go into play mostly in North County, but not near San Diego’s airport.
AT&T said the company is delaying turning on some of its towers around certain airports across the U.S.
“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,” an AT&T spokesperson said Tuesday.
But aviation expert Bill Hensley says it’s not that simple.
“In some European countries, 5G has been deployed but some of the engineers tell me that it’s at a lower power level so we’re concerned about the power level of 5G towers in the United States,” Hensley said.
In a statement Tuesday, a San Diego airport spokeswoman said, “The concern is that the telecommunications companies’ nationwide efforts to expand their 5G networks could potentially interfere with aircraft systems, causing increased delays, diversions, cancelations, and disruptions.”
According to Hensley, a specific concern with the 5G rollout is regarding radar altimeters.
“The radar altimeter us just simply an instrument that sends radio signals down from the airplane to the ground,” he said. They bounce back and it tells the computer systems and the pilots how high the airplane is above the ground, and you might think, ‘How complicated is that?’ Well, it’s extremely crucial to the safe operation of modern airliners.”
The wireless carriers are working with the FAA and the aviation industry for a solution.
“We’re still in the investigation phase,” Hensley said, “and because of that we can’t take a chance with the safety of the flying public, so we have to delay the implementation until everybody’s happy and satisfied particularly the pilots and the airlines so that there’s no safety implications.”