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US airlines warn C-Band 5G could cause 'catastrophic disruption'

The airline industry claims a “catastrophic” event could unfold on Wednesday when AT&T and Verizon activate their new C-Band 5G networks. In a letter obtained by Reuters, the CEOs of several prominent passenger and cargo airlines, including Delta, United and Southwest, warn interference from 5G cell towers could affect the sensitive safety equipment on their planes. "Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially be… ( More...

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21voyageur 22
The bottom line is that the US (regardless of band in question) has seen this coming for a while and have handled it in a highly dysfunctional manner. The result is the current shat show to the world.
Typical of today's government. Big, bloated, inefficient, and inept in many cases.
hal pushpak 22
Gang, I'd be careful about claiming that it's OK in other countries/continents, so why all the fuss over here? Not all countries use the same bands for 5G. Close, but not exactly. In fact in the US, as an extreme example, T-Mobile claims to already be 5G. Well they kinda do, but it's not on the C-Band at all! (Yet.)

Also I'd be careful in the blame game on agencies, avionics and airplane manufacturers, etc. C-Band radio altimeters have been around for a long time--back when hardly anyone else was occupied these bands. Thus it gave for a bit of sloppiness on the parameters-end for the avionics makers--because it never really bothered anyone else, and there was nothing much out there to bother their R/A's. Things are a bit different now.

Even though the FCC put in a buffer (guard) band of 20MHz, between US 5G and ARNS (Aviation) it turns out that legacy radio altimeters made back when were just not that discrete. And therefore, they ARE prone to receive "spurious" signals. I totally get why Medevacs should be concerned (if they have legacy R/A's). A 5G lamp-post near a hospital helipad? Not good..

So are we also going to blame Collins, Honeywell, et al for some of this? Should we blame the agencies for not having wider buffers? Why didn't the XYZ agency not know that legacy radio altimeters were a bit loosey goosey? It's just not that simple... IMHO!
Building product that is sensitive to signals outside of the specified band is definitely actionable. If someone can publish a spec for some of these i'd love to see the RF characteristics.
belzybob 6
Its important to note that mobile phone carriers are emitting very high ERPs and its not just 5G signals that can be a pain. I have to go to significant lengths to block out local phone tower signals from my ADSB receiver.

US 5G is also operating much higher in the band than most other countries, reducing the protection afforded to the relatively weak radar altimeter signals.
Raymond Hoff 5
The 5G band intrusion into C-band radar altimeter frequency is only one impact. These microwave frequencies are used to measure water vapour in the atmosphere in this same band with dual frequency (and broader bandwidth) radiometers on the ground and on satellites. Opposition from scientists using these frequencies to this band intrusion have fallen on deaf ears with the International Telecommunications Union which negotiates the use of these frequencies. Bands are "stolen" without an understanding of all the meteorological implications (403MHz is another example).

The part that should be discussed is why 5G is being put in C-band where water vapour absorption increases rapidly up to 8GHz. 5G will be badly affected by the same weather that air travel is trying to manage.
Edward West 8
The bottom line is the government sold this band width to AT&T and Verizon for 80 billion. They should have known there would be a problem. As always follow the money.
Brian Freeman 4
Yeah, yeah, but will I still be able to stream my TikTok videos on my phone with lightning fast speed?? Afterall, THAT'S what is really important these days......
Douglas Hoff 4
Seems like they are putting people's texting and mobile device operations ahead of aviation safety. A VERY BAD IDEA!
Just read that the helicopter services like Life Flight, Air Rescue, etc may be seriously affected - they do not land at airports only, but at local hospitals that are near the cell towers.
There's a certain Medevac company that's ready to take over the contracts from those who claim they can't fly with the old-design altimeters. In a capitalist society you have all kinds of opportunities.
That’ll make for an interesting conversation with their insurers
Ken Lane 4
The interference is quite simple to understand. The 5G towers and phones are on a band just below the RF altimeters.

RF altimeters are very low power. Never mind the power lost in the attenuation during its bounce and return.

Even if towers are at a lower power to supposedly prevent interference, that does not mean a phone on board a plane cannot. That has yet to be tested in the real world.

This was studied a couple years ago. But, the phone companies continued the rollout and the FCC got their money so they didn't care.

The FCC could have intervened but they received $80 Billion in fees. That’s all they care about.

As a ham I’m quite familiar with RF interference. My folks are lucky I never played on six meters during the old days.
Dave Bartell 2
For years, we had to power OFF cell phones on planes because we were told it interfered with the navigation systems. Now we get a "put you devices in airplane mode" comment buried in the other "in the event of a water landing" message.

Question: what happened to the original problem (hard power off)? did it just go away?
No, we were told they might interfere. In aviation we try to take as little as possible for granted (we don’t take unnecessary risks) so until exhaustive testing is completed and the results evaluated, restrictions are put in place. When the issue is fully understood the restrictions are modified as justified.
As for airplane mode, the issue is the phone’s transmission and possible RF interference with some of the aircraft’s core attitude systems which very sensitive and are often physically located below the first few rows of seats.
xd8bread 2
zuluzuluzulu 2
I think signal polarity would negate interference. 5g being vertical and r.a. being horizontal.
Derek Vaughn 2
It's almost like there is a hidden agenda to this, that wants to change the daily habits of people.
I don't think it's really hidden. It's pretty much out in the open. We all know the telecoms want us to use mobile handsets more often and for more functions. They do, after all, sell both the handsets, the services that support them, and oftentimes even the media content providers. And quite a few current and former FCC commissioners have worked for and with telecom and media companies including former commissioners Ajit Pai and Tom Wheeler, and current commissioners Brendan Carr, Geoffrey Starks, and Nathan Simington. That's three of four currently serving commissioners and I think four of five at the time the 5G spectrum sale went forward. And so far as I can tell no recent commissioner has worked in aviation or the sciences. It's mostly telecom lawyers on both sides of the aisle. Nothing secret. No hidden conspiracy. Just business as usual out in the plain light of day. But you don't see what you don't look at, even if it isn't hidden. And bureaucracy is boring, so mostly we don't look closely.
So radio altimeters are sensitive to frequencies that are outside their band (including the surrounding guard band)?

Sounds like the FAA is lining up for strike 2 after the 737MAX....
hal pushpak 3
Yes, unfortunately, the legacy R/A's are.. New ones, probably not.
belzybob 8
All receivers are sensitive to strong adjacent signals, filtering can reduce it, but if its strong enough it can desensitize any receiver.
Wayne Landis 2
I believe that someone needs to point out to the CEO of AT&T & Verizon, that they too fly on these planes along with their families. Would they take the risk of losing their family? Think about it!
jgoedker -1
As I see it, the issue isn't what agency caused it? It's the public's insatiable desire for anything technology and new. The gadget peddlers, Verizon, ATT, Apple, MS, are always looking for something new. How much speed do we really need? Will it ever be fast enough? This is a case of who got the politician's and bureaucrats' ears first. Does anybody really expect these government officials to stay in front of all the technology coming out these days? The telecoms brought this on their own. They are the experts that need to solve it. If that means starting over or paying aviation expenses, so be it. They are the intruders. Perhaps they shouldn't be selling phones that aren't even capable of meeting the sales pitches.

[This poster has been suspended.]

Cleffer 4
Apparently the FAA doesn't seem to think the issue is resolved.
ADXbear -3
The phone companies need to update all the Radio altimeter so safe cat11 and cat111 approaches may be safely performed. I see a big law suits coming should and accident occure.. I hope not.. all this should have been worked out along time ago.
21voyageur 3
absolutely correct on the "all this should have been worked out along (sic) ago.". This is dysfunctional brinkmanship with innocent lives possibly at risk. Shame on all agencies for allowing this to happen. Sounds third world.
Alan Zelt -3
If this is so, why have not European airports disallowed its implementation?
Mark Kortum 6
Power levels are lower in Europe, Installations have avoided airports, and they use different frequencies than in the US. That is why they moved forward.
BS. They have 5G at FRA. I live 20 minutes away.
orvlnet 2
The Euro 5G bands are different than ours.
Colin Seftel 5
The permitted C-band power levels are lower in Europe.
Scroll up and read why.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

John D 5
Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't it the airlines that are calling this out and not the government?
avionik99 -4
After the FAA falsely accused 5G of being unsafe. This theory has never been proven and 5G is used without any issues whatsoever in over 60 other countries! Its the FAA that is stopping the 5G rollout
Michael Dealey -1
Are you sure about that? High levels of RF and EMF radiation are hazardous to humans, animals, birds, and insects (bees). I assume, when you say "no issues whatsoever" that you are referring to plane crashes; but there are plenty of studies showing the detrimental effects of high levels of this type of radiation on humans and the environment.
We’re talking about planes here, not the “environment”. Wrong forum.
Fred Mew -2
And the winner is… who has the most money?! My guess is China!
DonDengler -2
What isn’t dysfunctional???
BS. It’s been deployed around the world without issues.
John D 3
Read the comments from people who seem to have first hand knowledge. 5G is not the same everywhere.
They have 5G at Frankfurt International Airport. I live 20 minutes away in Wiesbaden. ZERO differences in power levels. NEXT!
orvlnet 2
For the umpteenth time: The European 5G frequencies are not the same as ours.
DonDengler -7
I want a credit from the phone carrier. Not getting what paying for. Ha ha

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]


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