Federal Aviation Administration on Friday published a list of the 50 U.S. airports that want buffer zones, or areas where AT&T and Verizon have agreed to limit 5G signals for six months.
In a statement, the FAA said it was working with the aviation community to find out where the buffer zones would reduce the risk of disruption, given factors such as traffic volume, number of days with poor visibility and geographical location. The agency said that many airports are not currently affected by AT&T and Verizon’s upcoming 5G distribution, a service the wireless companies will activate on January 19 after various delays.
The buffers aim to reduce the potential interference of 5G antennas with aircraft instruments, called radar altimeters, which tell pilots how far they are from the ground. They help pilots navigate and land aircraft in bad weather and prevent crashes.
Airports on the list includes Dallas Love Field, a major passenger hub for Southwest Airlines, and Chicago O’Hare, which is a major hub for United Airlines and American Airlines. Facilities that serve as a hub for cargo and private jets, as airports in Indianapolis, Northern New Jersey and New York City, were also part of the select.
In addition, the list includes airports in Austin, Nashville, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle and San Francisco, among many others.
The FAA’s announcement comes amid a temporary ceasefire between transport regulators and aviation groups, which are concerned that 5G antennas near some airports could affect the accuracy of altimeter readings, and telecommunications regulators and wireless companies, which claim 5G technology will not pose safety concerns.
On Monday, AT&T and Verizon agreed break their 5G rollout for another two weeks at the request of federal agencies. The move was a quick turnaround from the wireless companies, which had only done so a day earlier put his foot down and said accepting the request would have been “an irresponsible abdication of the operational control required to deploy world-class and globally competitive communications networks.”
AT&T and Verizon bought almost the entire C-band radio spectrum auctioned by the Federal Communications Commission last year, and spent a total of nearly $ 70 billion, to improve their 5G network.
Above next six months, which is how long AT&T and Verizon have agreed to keep the buffers in place around the 50 airports, the FAA will work with aircraft manufacturers and airlines to confirm whether aircraft can operate safely after the wireless companies’ 5G service is turned on.