AT&T, Verizon rejects US request to delay 5G wireless plans

Verizon and AT&T have rejected a request from the US government to delay the rollout of next-generation wireless technology

WASHINGTON – Verizon and AT&T have rejected a request from the US government to delay the rollout of the next generation of wireless technology.

A joint letter Sunday from the telecommunications giants to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Steve Dickson, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration, tried to dispel concerns from U.S. airlines that a new 5G wireless service could harm aviation.

But Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon Communications, and John Stankey, CEO of AT&T, also wrote that they were willing to accept some temporary measures over the next six months to limit service around certain airport runways.

Airlines had asked the Federal Communications Commission to delay this week’s scheduled 5G rollout, saying the service, due to be launched on Tuesday, could disrupt electronics that pilots trust.

Airlines for America, a trading group for large U.S. passenger and cargo ships, said in an emergency application that the FCC has failed to take sufficient account of the damage the 5G service could do to the industry. The group wants more time for the FCC and FAA, which regulate airlines, to address aviation safety issues. These are related to a type of 5G service that relies on bits of radio spectrum called the C-Band, which wireless operators spent billions of dollars on buying up last year.

Buttigieg and Dickson wrote in part with the airlines, writing late Friday to the CEOs of AT&T and Verizon to propose a delay in activating 5G C-band service near an indefinite number of “priority airports”, while the FAA examines the potential for interference with aircraft operations.

AT&T and Verizon have previously agreed on a one-month delay in 5G, which provides faster speeds when mobile devices connect to their network and allows users to connect many devices to the Internet without slowing it down. But telecommunications chiefs said Sunday that further delays requested by the government would hurt their customers.

“Accepting your proposal would not only be an unprecedented and unjustified circumvention of the just process and checks and balances carefully crafted in the structure of our democracy, but an irresponsible abdication of the operational control required to implement world-class and globally competitive “are as important to our country’s economic vitality, public security and national interests as the aviation industry,” the leaders wrote.

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