At a Verizon booth promoting 5G at the Los Angeles Video Game Show (E3), June 12, 2019Frederic J. BROWN
US airlines, which threatened to sue AT&T and Verizon to ask to delay the deployment of 5G, said Monday evening that they had reached an agreement in principle for a delay until January 19.
According to representatives of the airline industry, a draft agreement of the last hour was reached first with the telephone operator AT&T, then with Verizon, to delay again for fifteen days the establishment of new frequency bands 5G.
An AT&T spokeswoman confirmed to AFP that she had reached an agreement with the transport ministry and “accepted an additional two weeks for the deployment of the service.”
While airlines invoke possible interference with aircraft onboard devices in particular, the entry into service of 5G, initially scheduled for December 5, had already been postponed and was due to take place on Wednesday.
“No one has signed anything yet but for the moment we are holding the lawsuit for this two week period,” said an airline industry official.
The companies were preparing to file a lawsuit in order to obtain this delay and technical modifications in the deployment of the high-speed network.
The two operators “agree not to deploy 5G technology on January 5, that is to say Wednesday, but rather on January 19,” said an official.
During this “two-week break”, changes made to installations at airports in particular will have to be reviewed by the air regulatory authority, the FAA, “to ensure that they meet all the safety conditions for flights.” .
The 3.7-3.8 GHz frequency bands were awarded to AT&T and Verizon in February after a bid for tens of billions of dollars.
Faced with concerns about potential interference problems with devices measuring altitude in airplanes, the FAA had issued new directives limiting the use of these aircraft in certain situations.
But American airlines have protested against the potential costs incurred, and called on the authorities to quickly find a solution.
“The agreement is not fully concluded, it is still provisional, we are working on it,” added an airline industry official.
“We know that aviation safety and 5G can coexist and we are convinced that continuing collaboration and technical assessments will solve these problems,” said AT&T.