Federal Aviation Administration Raises Concerns on 5G Deployment in C-Band

The last-minute concern about 5G deployment in C-band could slow down the progress in 5G deployments across the world. There is no solid evidence that 5G operations using the C-band spectrum pose a risk to aviation safety, according to telecom operators.


  • FCC has been studying the issue for years and concluded that both 5G and radio altimeters could co-exist.
  • Japan has 90,000 5G base stations in operation and has not reported any impact of it on aviation operations.
  • Additional protections around airports and helipads may be required.

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When the world is gearing up for the 5G deployment across countries and 5G devices making waves in the market, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a statement citing ‘unsafe condition’ in radio altimeters due to 5G deployment in C-band.

Radio altimeters are used by aviators to measure their altitude above ground. They operate near to C-band, the significant middle part of the wireless spectrum, which is the cornerstone for 5G network. According to FAA, radio altimeters can experience interference from wireless broadband operations in the 3.7-3.98 GHz frequency band (5G C-Band). On such interference, the radio altimeters cannot be depended to perform their intended function. Such limitations could prevent the dispatch of flights to certain locations with low visibility and could result in flight diversions.

FAA says that it is working closely with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and wireless companies and is making progress toward safely implementing the 5G expansion.

Japan raises no issues of 5G’s impact on altimeters

5G is an incremental step forward for the world, bringing speed and performance to the digital world much greater than the current networks. It is a game-changer in all areas, augmenting the lives of people in unimaginable ways. Hence, any hindrance to its full deployment is a serious concern for the future of the digital economy.

Meanwhile, FAA’s concerns are making impacts among the 5G service providers. AT&T and Verizon, two leading players in the US telecom industry, have agreed to postpone their C-band deployments until January 5, 2022, in the wake of FAA’s concerns.

According to an article by Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media, the FCC has studied the issue for several years and concluded that 5G and altimeters could safely co-exist with proper guard rails in place around the altimeter spectrum. FCC has taken recommendations from experts in the field of aviation and government agencies before arriving at a decision. Several European nations and Japan, which has 90,000 5G base stations in operation, have not raised any issues of 5G’s impact on altimeters. According to Forbes, FAA’s concerns are baseless, and there is nothing to be concerned about.

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Ria is a lead news writer at Aviation Scoop. She writes from dawn to dusk, reads in the evenings, and draws at some ungodly hours. She loathes human interaction and finds solace in the sweet, musky smell of old books, and rain.

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