By B.N. Frank
Aviation experts have been warning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for years about 5G technology interference issues that could affect air travel safety (see 1, 2, 3, 4). In fact, earlier this year, regulators in France recommended that 5G smartphones should be turned off during flight because interference could cause errors “in instruments that are extremely critical” while landing! Regardless, the “captured” FCC continues to ignore these warnings, as do telecom companies and some airlines (see 1, 2).
More from Fierce Wireless:
Aviation, wireless industries clash over C-band interference
AT&T and Verizon are gearing up to deploy the first tranche of C-band spectrum for 5G later this year, but before they do, groups in the airline and aerospace industry say the carriers need to put short-term solutions in place to avoid harmful interference – or expect major disruptions to air travel, transport, and emergency helicopter operations.
However, a July white paper from industry group 5G Americas says studies submitted by the aviation industry have “significant shortcomings” and are overly conservative when it comes to real-world conditions.
C-band spectrum between 3.7-3.98 GHz was auctioned by the Federal Communications Commission, with Verizon and AT&T spending over $45 billion and $23 billion, respectively (plus billions more for clearing costs and payments). These mid-band frequencies are key for 5G coverage and capacity.
This month, ex parte (PDF) filings (first spotted by Light Reading) show that 19 groups and companies representing the aerospace and aviation industry met with FCC officials urging the agency to grant a pending petition to reconsider part of the 2020 C-band order and put carrier-initiated steps in place by December 5, 2021, “to ensure aviation and public safety by protecting radio altimeters from harmful interference from 3.7 GHz licensed operations.”
In its February 2020 Report and Order approving use of the C-band for wireless service, the FCC had concluded “well-designed [radio altimeter] equipment should not ordinarily receive any significant interference (let alone harmful interference) given these circumstances.”
Radio altimeters are key safety-of-life systems used to measure the height of an aircraft above the ground, up to 2,500 feet depending on aircraft, where harmful interference could cause issues in various landings and approaches.
For example, the aviation groups recently told the FCC that “such harmful interference could lead to an escalation of negative outcomes, from missed approaches, delays, diversions, and flight cancellations, to the shutting down of runways on an indefinite basis.”
Concerns over interference to aviation systems, specifically to radio altimeters operating in the nearby 4.2.-4.4 GHz band, had been raised by industry groups before the auction, as well as by Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, earlier this year.
Tim Farrar, president of consulting and research firm TMF Associates, told Fierce he thinks the FCC “was shocked that the aviation community objected at the last minute before the auction was to take place last December, when it had been known since 2017 that there was a high likelihood of spectrum being reallocated in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band.”
He said particularly after major contention over Ligado and its L-band spectrum “the FCC is very sensitive to attempts by other parties (especially when they secure support inside the executive or legislature) to try and exercise veto rights across large swathes of spectrum.”
The FCC released a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) in August 2017 well before the February 2020 C-band order, the latter which 5G Americas says explicitly took into account comments from the aviation community (including leaving a 220-megahertz guard band) which had been active in the proceeding.
Ahead of the December 2020 C-band auction, the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) provided an October analysis, which the aviation industry cited in recent filings and 5G Americas’ white paper refutes.
Pointing to the RTCA study, the airline groups this August reiterated their stance to the FCC that the 220-megahertz guard band wasn’t enough to protect radio altimeters, which are used on several types of civil aircraft worldwide. They fear interference given the high power levels that are allowed for 5G operations in the C-band.
Based on the report, “safe interference limits are exceeded by 5G fundamental emissions at up to 500 ft altitude” for commercial transport airplanes like large jet airlines, “and across the entire operational altitude range” of up to 2,500 feet for helicopters, general and business aviation, and regional transport airplanes.
Opposition to 5G is worldwide. Significant biological, economic, environmental, privacy, public safety, and security risks have been identified with deployment (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14). Cities AND entire countries have taken action to ban, delay, halt, and limit 5G installation AS WELL AS issue moratoriums.
In May, scientists submitted a letter to President Biden asking him to protect the public from 5G and other unsafe technology. Americans opposed to 5G may click here to sign a letter asking the Biden administration to stop deployment immediately.
Activist Post reports regularly about 5G and other unsafe technology. For more information visit our archives and the following websites:
- Americans for Responsible Technology
- 5G Free
- 5G Information
- 5G Space Appeal
- Stop 5G International
- Environmental Health Trust
- Physicians for Safe Technology
- Scientists for Wired Tech
- Wireless Information Network
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