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US FAA details 50 airports that will have 5G buffer zones


A Verizon contract team installs 5G telecommunications equipment on a tower in Orem, Utah, U.S. December 3, 2019. Photo taken December 3, 2019. REUTERS / George Frey / File Photo

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WASHINGTON, Jan.7 (Reuters) – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Friday unveiled a list of 50 U.S. airports that will have buffer zones when mobile carriers activate the new 5G C-band service on Jan.19.

AT&T (TN) and Verizon Communications (VZ.N) agreed on Monday to buffer zones around 50 airports to reduce the risk of disruption due to potential interference with sensitive aircraft instruments like altimeters. They also agreed to delay the deployment for two weeks, thus avoiding an air safety deadlock.

The list includes airports in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Detroit, Dallas, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Miami.

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The FAA has said this does “not necessarily” mean low visibility flights cannot take place at airports that are not in the 50.

AT&T and Verizon, which won nearly all of the C-band spectrum in an $ 80 billion auction last year, declined to comment.

The FAA on Thursday renewed its warnings that despite the deal, 5G wireless service could still disrupt flights, saying that “even with the temporary buffer of around 50 airports, the 5G deployment will increase the risk of disruption in low visibility, “including” flight cancellations, hijacked flights, and delays during periods of low visibility. “

Some major airports such as Denver, Atlanta and Ronald Reagan Washington National are not on the list because 5G is not yet being deployed, while others are not because “the 5G towers are far enough away that a natural buffer exists ”.

Other unlisted airports currently do not have the capability to allow low visibility landings, the FAA has said. He said the delay would allow him to assess ways to minimize the disruption and also give businesses more time to prepare.

“If there is a risk to the flying public, we are forced to suspend the activity, until we can prove it is safe,” the FAA said.

ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin Burke, who heads the association representing US and Canadian airports, said on Friday that the FAA list “is largely irrelevant because the whole system aviation is about to be affected by this poorly planned and coordinated expansion of 5G service in and around airports. ” He said “the so-called fix will create winners and losers within the airport community, and the entire aviation system will suffer under the terms of this deal.”

Airlines for America, a trade group representing U.S. passenger and cargo carriers, said it appreciates “the FAA’s efforts to implement mitigation measures for airports that may be most affected by the disruption generated by the deployment of the new 5G service “.

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Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Sandra Maler and Grant McCool

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