FAA Agrees To Switch On More 5G Towers And Masts

US aviation regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has agreed to allow more mobile masts and towers equipped with 5G networks to be switched on.

The FAA announced on Friday that it has agreed that Verizon Communications and AT&T can safely turn on more towers for the C-Band 5G deployment.

The FAA has played a controversial role in the recent 5G crisis in the United States, after it publicly disagreed with its sister agency and the actual communications specialist, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which insisted that 5G networks pose no risk to aircraft.

5G towers

Now the FAA and the two major US mobile operators have agreed to switch on more 5G towers, after it was able to map the shape of coverage around airports.

“Through continued technical collaboration, the FAA, Verizon, and AT&T have agreed on steps that will enable more aircraft to safely use key airports while also enabling more towers to deploy 5G service,” said the aviation regulator.

“The FAA appreciates the strong communication and collaborative approach with wireless companies, which have provided more precise data about the exact location of wireless transmitters and supported more thorough analysis of how 5G C-band signals interact with sensitive aircraft instruments,” it added.

“The FAA used this data to determine that it is possible to safely and more precisely map the size and shape of the areas around airports where 5G signals are mitigated, shrinking the areas where wireless operators are deferring their antenna activations,” it said.

“This will enable the wireless providers to safely turn on more towers as they deploy new 5G service in major markets across the United States,” it added.

“The FAA continues to work with helicopter operators and others in the aviation community to ensure they can safely operate in areas of current and planned 5G deployment,” it said.

Aviation concerns

AT&T and Verizon had on agreed on 18 January to temporarily not turn on about 510 towers near airports over the FAA’s concerns about interference with airplane radio altimeters.

The FAA sided with airlines, after an airline trade group repeatedly made over the top statements about a “catastrophic” impact on US aviation.

CTIA, an industry trade group representing wireless carriers, meanwhile called the FAA announcement “a positive development that highlights the considerable progress the wireless industry, aviation industry, FAA and (Federal Communications Commission) are making to ensure robust 5G service and safe flights.”

The CTIA has previously pointed to experts as saying there is no valid scientific or engineering basis to justify a 5G delay, and there is overwhelming evidence that 5G operates safely in the C-Band without causing harmful interference to air traffic.

Airline industry officials say the FAA plans to further refine the zones around airports at a later date that will allow Verizon and AT&T to use additional towers near airports.

About 500 of the towers that were not turned on last week are Verizon towers, officials told Reuters.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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