AT&T and Verizon have agreed to delay their planned 5G infrastructure rollouts near airports by two weeks, averting — for the time being — major disruptions in air travel and shipping, as well as a potential judicial dispute.
Both carriers announced late Monday evening that they will delay launching 5G services near airports until January 19, and that officials will try to apply French-style 5G limits to the United States in the meantime.
“At Secretary [of Transportation Pete] Buttigieg’s request, we have voluntarily agreed to one additional two-week delay of our deployment of C-Band 5G services,” an AT&T spokesperson said in a statement. “We also remain committed to the six-month protection zone mitigations we outlined in our letter. We know aviation safety and 5G can co-exist and we are confident further collaboration and technical assessment will allay any issues.”
The parent firm of WarnerMedia, of which CNN is a part, is AT&T (T).
According to spokesman Rich Young, Verizon (VZ) has also agreed to a two-week postponement. He claimed that the postponement “promises the certainty of bringing this nation our game-changing 5G network in January delivered over America’s best and most reliable network.”
The announcement comes as officials from the aviation industry were preparing to sue the Federal Communications Commission in a last-ditch effort to prevent the deployment from starting on Jan. 5. According to an airline industry official, preparations to file the court case were already beginning when word of the agreement arrived, and the litigation would be stopped as a result of the two-week extension.
Negotiators had been working behind the scenes, according to the official “frantically trying to reach an agreement” and that Monday’s outcome may “seems a little dramatic, but that’s how things work sometimes.” In the meantime, this may be a pretty nice outcome.”
The Federal Aviation Administration issued an urgent warning in December, stating that it planned to prohibit pilots from using a critical aircraft instrument due to concerns that 5G signals could interfere with the devices, a decision that the agency predicted would result in widespread flight delays and diversions.
The agency stated, “Safety is at the heart of our mission, and it governs all of our decisions.” “We look forward to using the additional time and space to reduce flight disruptions associated with this 5G deployment.”