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Airlines raise safety concerns over 5G rollout


Southwest Airlines and Delta Airlines planes at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Dec. 2. Associated Press/Photo by Mike Stewart

Airlines raise safety concerns over 5G rollout

CEOs of some of the nation’s largest airlines warned that thousands of planes could be grounded if AT&T and Verizon activate 5G wireless service near airports as planned on Wednesday. A coalition of passenger and cargo airlines sent a letter to the Biden administration on Tuesday asking it to stop 5G networks from transmitting within 2 miles of airports. Verizon and AT&T agreed to pause transmitters in some locations but did not say how many or for how long. The Federal Communications Commission said a plan developed more than a year ago gave the airlines enough time to put the correct equipment in airplanes and ground others.

Why the limit? Wireless fifth-generation cellular networks use a radio frequency similar to the ones used by altimeters, which measure the distance from the aircraft to the ground. The device is especially useful in inclement weather when pilots cannot see the runway. The telecommunications companies say the frequencies are different enough that they will not interfere with the plane’s system. Verizon argued more than 40 countries have 5G wireless networks that do not interfere with airport operations.

Dig deeper: Listen to Sarah Schweinsberg’s report in The World and Everything in It podcast about how the 5G internet could help rural communities.


Mary Muncy

Mary Muncy is a breaking news reporter for WORLD. She graduated from World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College.

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