How 5G cell service affects you, planes and diplomacy


(NewsNation) – The Federal Aviation Administration has named 50 US airports – including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Las Vegas, Dallas, Philadelphia, Seattle and Miami – that will be used as “buffer zones” as cellphone carriers roll out their 5G C-band services on January 19.

AT&T and Verizon agreed last week to delay rolling out 5G, the next-generation wireless technology, near airports over concerns the technology could interfere with aircraft security systems. The launch of the wireless service was due to take place on January 5, but aviation groups have raised concerns and the Department of Transport has requested that the rollout be postponed.

5G technology has implications for airlines, but it is already impacting your cellphones and also the relationship between some of the most powerful countries in the world. Here’s what you need to know:

What is 5G and how is it different?

Much like 3G and 4G, the latest wireless service operates on the same radio frequencies currently used for your smartphone, on Wi-Fi networks and in satellite communications. But what sets it apart is that it allows technology to go much further, according to Ericsson.com.

Scott Dunaway of the Texas 5G Alliance said the new 5G wireless service will allow users to connect to their networks faster with better reliability. “It’s expected to deliver connections at least 40 times faster than what people are (currently) experiencing on their mobile devices,” he said.

It also allows users to connect multiple devices to the Internet without slowing down service, making it easier to connect people in high traffic areas such as airports, concert halls and large events.

How does the switch to 5G affect me?

The simple answer is that if you watch movies, play games, or manage large volumes of data on your mobile device, 5G should be your best friend. According to tech giant Qualcomm, this will enable “higher multi-Gbps peak data speeds, ultra-low latency, more reliability, massive network capacity, increased uptime and a smoother user experience for more ‘users’.

Essentially, 5G should virtually eliminate the problem of being in a place where too many people are trying to use the same wireless network and the service slows down or stops working.

How does 5G affect airplanes?

Aircraft use radio altimeters, which use radio waves to measure an aircraft’s altitude and help guide pilots safely to the ground when visibility is poor. The FAA warns that the 5G C-band rollout could impact 17 “different automated security systems (that) rely on radio altimeter data.”

The telecommunications industry and the Federal Communications Commission have said 5G service on the C-band spectrum poses no threat, but aviation experts warn flights could be interrupted and delayed, and some may even have to be diverted to other airports.

The five dozen airports that will have 5G “buffer zones” were selected based on traffic volume, number of low visibility days and geographic location. According to the FAA, these buffers will only protect the last 20 seconds of flight.

For airports not on the list, the FAA says that “does not necessarily” mean that low-visibility flights cannot take place. Along with others, the FAA says 5G towers are far enough apart to create a natural buffer. So for now, the effect of 5G remains to be determined.

What’s delaying AT&T and Verizon’s 5G launch?

In early December, the FAA announced a new rule that prohibits pilots from using automated landing systems at certain airports after the rollout of 5G. On Dec. 31, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson asked the companies to postpone the deployment due to safety concerns related to flight delays, which was already an issue due to the increase in COVID cases.

AT&T and Verizon Communications had previously agreed to a one-month deadline, but on January 2, the two wireless companies responded with their own letter denying the request and adding that the aviation industry had two years to update the altimeters that could not filter. 5G frequencies. They also noted that 5G services have already been implemented in other countries.

A day later, AT&T and Verizon announced an agreement to delay the 5G plan for two weeks, following pressure from the White House and the airline industry. In a statement, AT&T also reiterated its promise to further reduce network power around airports for six months to give regulators more time to investigate potential interference with aviation.

What are the disadvantages of 5G for the consumer?

Two major downsides to 5G are that it’s expensive to install (yes, you’ll see the costs passed through to your cell phone bills) and that it will take some time before the network is available outside of major urban areas. . It’s basically building a whole new cellular network, and it’s a massive undertaking.

What are the diplomatic concerns with 5G?

Earlier this year, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr tweeted that 40 countries have enabled 5G on the C-band spectrum. He also said the Biden administration is “working to unnecessarily delay C-band operations here.”

There are growing concerns about China’s involvement in 5G wireless networks. Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications equipment giant leading the country’s 5G effort, has been a pernicious threat to the security of the United States and other countries.

The Hill reports that only eight countries have agreed to join the U.S. ban on Huawei’s 5G equipment, compared to the more than 90 countries that have signed up with Huawei, including NATO members Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The Associated Press, Reuters, Nexstar Media Wire and The Hill contributed to this report.

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