AT&T and Verizon agree to two-week 5G expansion delay at FAA's request

Iphone 12 5g
Iphone 12 5g (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Both AT&T and Verizon have agreed to delay the expansion of their 5G networks for two weeks.
  • The FAA, among others, had requested that the carriers delay their work over flight safety concerns.
  • Some worry that the use of the C-bend spectrum could cause problems with systems mid-flight.

Both AT&T and Verizon have agreed to delay the expansion of their 5G networks for two weeks at the request of the Federal Aviation Administration and airline companies. The expansion would have seen the 5G networks be upgraded with C-band spectrum on January 5, but that will now no longer happen.

According to Cnet, the delay comes after Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also requested a delay amid concerns that use of C-band 5G connections could impact inflight navigation systems, with potentially dire consequences.

"At Secretary Buttigieg's request, we have voluntarily agreed to one additional two-week delay of our deployment of C-Band 5G services," AT&T said in an e-mailed statement. "We also remain committed to the six-month protection zone mitigations we outlined in our letter. We know aviation safety and 5G can co-exist and we are confident further collaboration and technical assessment will allay any issues."

Carriers have already proposed that cell towers operate with lower power levels to ensure they don't impact flights, while towers near airports would also see their power levels reduced yet further. However, those concessions have yet to appease airlines and those in the aviation industry, hence this latest delay.

The delay reduces the risk of legal action but doesn't guarantee a positive outcome for all concerned. Carriers paid handsomely to use frequencies from 3.7 to 3.98GHz for their upgraded 5G connections and will no doubt want to make use of them sooner rather than later.

Apple's iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 both support 5G connectivity, of course, as do all Android flagship devices.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.