AT&T, Verizon offer to limit 5G power over aircraft safety concerns

They say they will keep the limits in place for six months.

Andrew Kelly / reuters

In a rare move to avoid a potential conflict with the Federal Aviation Administration, AT&T and Verizon say they will limit the power output of their 5G cell towers for a period of six months while the agency investigates the effects of C-band spectrum on aircraft safety systems. According to The Wall Street Journal, the carriers made the offer on Wednesday in a letter they sent to the Federal Communications Commission.

“While we remain confident that 5G poses no risk to air safety, we are also sensitive to the Federal Aviation Administration’s desire for additional analysis of this issue,” AT&T and Verizon wrote. Should the FAA accept the proposal, the limit will extend to July 6th. AT&T and Verizon told the FCC they don’t expect the limits to impact their services.

At the start of November, both companies agreed to delay their C-band rollouts by one month to January 2022. Officials with the FAA worry widespread use of C-band spectrum may interfere with the altimeter equipment on some aircraft. Pilots often rely on those tools when they need to land, especially when visibility conditions aren’t favorable.

Both AT&T and Verizon have a strong financial incentive to avoid any further delays to their C-band rollout. The two carriers spent a combined $68.8 billion to secure the necessary licenses for their mid-band buildouts and an additional $15 billion on the necessary infrastructure to take advantage of that spectrum.

This article contains affiliate links; if you click such a link and make a purchase, we may earn a commission.