Some major airlines have resorted to cancelling flights to the US, over concerns that the country’s 5G rollout may interfere with vital aircraft technology.
Although AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) have temporarily refrained from rolling out their new high-speed internet services near airports across the US, some major airlines still decided to cut flights of certain airplanes following warnings from both aircraft companies and aviation regulators. On Wednesday, over 320 flights— mostly those using Boeing aircraft— were cancelled to various airports, after both the Federal Aviation Administration and the US-based aircraft manufacturer warned that 5G technology could interfere with a device that measures the plane’s altitude.
Both the AT&T and Verizon networks use a radio frequency that is similar to the one used by radio altimeters, which are devices that determine an aircraft’s altitude during times of low visibility. Although the US Federal Communications Commission said there isn’t a risk to aircrafts from the wireless service, the FAA advised otherwise, prompting the telecom providers to delay the 5G rollout while officials determine which aircraft is ill-suited to fly in proximity of the technology.
Sensing urgency, the FAA granted approval for more types of aircraft— including some Boeing planes— to land at airports posing low visibility despite 5G signals being in near proximity on Wednesday; however, come evening, almost 40% of all US airplanes were still waiting on clearance from the agency.
The aviation agency cited several issues related to America’s 5G rollout, some of which have not been as pronounced for other countries. Cellular towers across the US have a substantially stronger signal than those in other regions with antennae that point at a steeper angle, as well as operate on a network frequency that is much closer to the one that altimeters rely on.
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