FAA wants FCC action to delay 5G C-Band to ensure aviation safety

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ensure a delay in some 5G C-Band transmissions from smaller operators, Reuters news report said.
Ericsson Radio System portfolioActing FAA Administrator Billy Nolen said the FCC should ask 19 smaller telecoms and other spectrum holders to delay their 5G expansion in C-Band.

Billy Nolen says aviation safety would be compromised if the U.S. government does not codify certain additional operating limits in the 5G C-Band environment.

Billy Nolen sent the letter to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel was copied.

Nolen’s letter warns that without the FCC mandating the mitigations the FAA would be forced to take immediate steps to ensure the safety of the traveling public, raising the likelihood of flight disruptions across the United States.

In June, Verizon and AT&T agreed to delay some C-Band 5G usage until July 2023 as air carriers work to retrofit airplanes to ensure they will not face interference.

Nolen’s letter said the aviation industry is retrofitting the current U.S. domestic and international fleets that fly in the United States with radio frequency filters. It added data indicates that even retrofitted aircraft would be susceptible to interference if the report and order is not modified, resulting in renewed concerns about unsafe interference.

Earlier this year, the FAA and altimeter manufacturers divided the U.S. commercial passenger airline fleet into four groups based on their tolerance to interference.

It remains unclear if the four-member FCC has the authority to retroactively impose conditions on companies that purchased spectrum at auction or if would have the votes to make any changes.

The FAA has shrunk zones around airports where Verizon and AT&T cannot fully use towers. Verizon said the June agreement would allow it to lift the voluntary limitations on our 5G network deployment around airports in a staged approach.

FAA said the voluntarily mitigations by AT&T and Verizon have resulted in the safe deployment of more than 50,000 wireless antennas across the nation. It noted that the FAA has no authority to require the 19 other spectrum holders to adopt the same precautions.