AT&T, Verizon delay 5G rollout near some airports after airlines warned of flight cancellations

AT&T and Verizon on Tuesday said they would delay deployment of 5G service at towers near some U.S. airports after airlines warned that the rollout would cause flight cancellations.

The company’s statement came just hours after the Biden administration said it was in talks with telecom companies, government agencies and airlines about the dispute.

AT&T and Verizon are scheduled to begin the 5G rollout on Wednesday. AT&T and Verizon said they would temporarily delay deploying the 5G technology while.

The 5G C-Band service sits next to frequencies used by key instruments modern aircraft and the FAA had warned it could interfere with those systems, such as radio altimeters.

“At our sole discretion we have voluntarily agreed to temporarily defer turning on a limited number of towers around certain airport runways as we continue to work with the aviation industry and the FAA to provide further information about our 5G deployment, since they have not utilized the two years they’ve had to responsibly plan for this deployment,” AT&T said in a statement.

The company said it was “frustrated by the FAA’s inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services, and we urge it do so in a timely manner. We are launching our advanced 5G services everywhere else as planned with the temporary exception of this limited number of towers.”

Verizon also said it “voluntarily” limit the 5G network near airports. “The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and our nation’s airlines have not been able to fully resolve navigating 5G around airports, despite it being safe and fully operational in more than 40 other countries,” it said.

AT&T and Verizon didn’t say how many airports were affected and how long the delays would last.

FAA didn’t immediately comment.