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FAA clears Verizon and AT&T to turn on more 5G cell towers

AP – Federal safety regulators say they have cleared the way for Verizon and AT&T to power up more towers for new 5G service without causing radio interference with airplanes.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Friday that it took the steps after receiving details from the telecommunications companies about the location of wireless transmitters.

The FAA’s move will let the companies activate 5G cell towers closer to airports without hindering the ability of planes to land during poor weather.

Verizon and AT&T declined to comment. Spokesman for the telecommunications trade group CTIA Nick Ludlum called it a “positive development that highlights the considerable progress the wireless industry, aviation industry, FAA and FCC are making to ensure robust 5G service and safe flights”.

The trade group Airlines for America issued a similar statement. Spokesman Carter Yang added that all sides are working on “a more efficient permanent solution” that will avoid disrupting air traffic as more 5G towers are activated.

Aviation groups and the FAA had warned that the companies’ 5G service, which uses part of the radio spectrum called C-Band, was too close to the spectrum range used by instruments that measure the height of planes above the ground – crucial information for landing in low visibility.

Verizon and AT&T, which spent billions to build 5G networks, disputed the FAA’s conclusions.

But they twice agreed to delay launching new 5G and temporarily delayed it around many airports even as they began offering the service in many US cities on January 19.

A flight lands at Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington. PHOTO: AP
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