Verizon and AT&T Pause 5G Rollout as Potential Airline Interference Complicates Communication


Telecom companies AT&T and Verizon have both agreed to pause their rollout of new 5G towers. According to the US Federal Aviation Administration, the new signals used by some 5G towers interfere with airline safety technology.

FAA Announcement

On Tuesday, the FAA announced it would work with cell phone providers to help mitigate the risks presented by 5G signals. Specifically, the authority noted that new C-band transmitters are causing problems for pilots. These wavelengths can reportedly block some instruments, like landing assistance software, from functioning correctly.

Telecom Giants Pause Plans

AT&T said that it would pause its 5G rollout until after January 5, complying with a request from the FAA’s parent organization, the US Transportation Department. Verizon, meanwhile, has agreed to hold off on its plans to roll out 5G signals via the C-band spectrum. This mid-spectrum standard will allow Verizon to cover an additional 100 million people, making it a critical component of its 5G plan.

A Verizon spokesperson noted that the company still plans to finish rolling out C-band signals in early 2022, though. “We’re moving full speed ahead with our plans to bring 5G over this spectrum in early 2022,” the spokesperson told reporters.

What Is 5G?

The latest update to wireless communications standards, 5G will allow even faster internet connections to mobile users. Cell phone carriers point out that 5G will allow for faster speeds for users in crowded areas, even during high-traffic periods.

Launching the technology hasn’t been easy for communications companies, though. The standard was the center of announcements as early as 2018, but complications have slowed the rollout at every turn. Even now, only a few cities have widespread 5G coverage. The issues with air traffic and the C-band spectrum are only the latest headache for the industry.

Rocky 5G Launch

Telecom carriers heralded the arrival of 5G over the past two years, but customers haven’t reacted with the same enthusiasm. LTE coverage, the predecessor to the 5G standard, is already speedy enough for everyday use. This situation makes the incremental upgrade to 5G less noticeable for the average customer.

Users have phones that can stream HD videos and upload photos to social media in seconds. Why do they need faster phones? The idea of upgrading from a cutting-edge phone to access incrementally higher data speeds is unappealing to the average customer.