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Airlines V.S. Wireless Industry

The wireless industry and the aviation industry have spent the past week publicly clashing over deployment of the newest version of 5G service. Wireless providers are eager to activate the high-speed networks for their customers and on the other are aviation regulators and airlines warning that the signals could interfere with key equipment in airplanes.


Tensions came to a head last Wednesday when AT&T and Verizon started turning on that 5G service around the country using newly acquired wireless spectrum in what's known as the C-band. Concerned that the signals could disrupt aircraft altimeters used for landing in poor visibility, major international airlines, including Emirates, Japan Airlines, and ANA, started canceling flights involving Boeing-made planes to several major U.S. airports.


By Thursday afternoon, airlines resumed flights as the FAA began issuing new approvals that allowed almost 80% of commercial airliners to perform low-visibility landings at airports covered by both Verizon's and AT&T's rollouts. The battle isn't over, and this week's stand off is just the latest in an ongoing drama between the FAA and the Department of Transportation (which runs the agency) and the wireless industry and its regulator, the Federal Communications Commission. Since November, the two sides have been immersed in a high-stakes game of chicken.


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