Verizon and AT&T are itching to fire up their C-Band 5G networks to better compete with T-Mobile in the race to offer good 5G experiences. They initially planned to light up C-Band in December, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) asked them to pause until January 5, as there were concerns over how C-Band might interact with some airline equipment. It’s now January and the US government still wants both to hold off for another two weeks, yet neither are interested in doing so for the most part.
At the end of last week, the FAA and US government sent a letter to AT&T and Verizon, asking that they continue to pause their C-Band go-live for two weeks, rather than move forward with their January 5 planned launch. Verizon and AT&T responded (via Reuters) by saying “The laws of physics are the same in the United States and France,” and therefore would still plan to go live with some buffer areas around airports. We’ll come back to that silly quote in a second.
The FAA and airline industry wanted more time to mark priority airports “where a buffer zone would permit aviation operations to continue safely while the FAA completes its assessments of the interference potential.” Safety is the biggest concern, but the FAA has also said they want C-Band to still go live at some point this month while adding “priority airports on a rolling basis” into March.
The Association of Flight Attendants and Air Line Pilots Association both back a further delay. The trade group Airlines for America, which represents American Airlines, FedEx, and others, asked the FCC to halt this new 5G deployment around airports over worries that thousands of flights could be delayed daily.
But again, Verizon and AT&T still want to fire up C-Band and plan to do so on January 5. When they do, they will at least not turn it on around airports for six months, saying that further limitations beyond that would be “an irresponsible abdication of the operating control required to deploy world-class and globally competitive communications networks.” F*cking lol.
Their weird France quote from above has to do with a comparison they made between the US and how flights are operating there with C-Band live. If US flights can operate there each day, they should be fine doing so here, they believe.
Verizon and AT&T’s proposed buffer zones around airports are not as large as the FAA requested, though.
Soooo, uhh, we’ll see how this plays out over the next couple of days.
- UPDATE 1/4: Verizon and AT&T caved a bit and agreed to delay their C-Band 5G launches for two weeks, just like the FAA and US government had requested they do. They are also committing to their safer protection zones for 6 months once they do fire up the network.