What Is C-Band 5G, and Why Is It Creating Such Controversy in the United States?

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By Fei Liu | 1Q 2022 | IN-6423


Verizon and AT&T Postpone C-Band 5G Rollout Again Due to Aviation Safety Concerns


In February 2021, C-band spectrum was auctioned off for a total of over US$80 billion in the United States; Verizon spent almost US$50 billion to win the most licenses, followed by AT&T with US$23 billion. Verizon and AT&T have been expanding their 5G coverage since then, but some U.S. airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have raised concerns that 5G services could interfere with aircraft technology—aircraft altimeters in particular—and cause daily flight disruptions of up to 4%. The airlines have requested for the new, faster mobile service to be banned within a two-mile radius of airport runways. On January 18, 2022, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) Verizon and AT&T agreed again to postpone their 5G rollout near 50 airports to work with the federal regulators in order to settle this dispute over potential interference. In any case, a week after the official pause on C-band rollout for both Verizon and AT&T, the FAA has announced that 90% of aircraft in the United States are cleared to fl…

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