AT&T, Verizon Resume C-Band 5G Expansion Plans

5G graphic (mesh)

Two of the major cellular providers in the US recently paused their C-band 5G expansion plans. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) raised concerns that the C-band 5G expansion would interfere with aviation electronics. Striking a deal with the FAA, both carriers have agreed to limit the transmission power in order to resume their expansions.

Anxious to Begin New C-Band 5G Expansion

In many countries, C-band frequencies are more readily available than in the US. These mid-band frequencies allow a good balance of coverage and speed, but are difficult to acquire in the US. Therefore, AT&T and Verizon had relied more on mmWave frequencies. These spectrums are fast, but do not offer much coverage. When the carriers were able to purchase C-band frequencies, they were eager to put them to use.

Unfortunately, the FAA raised concerns in early November 2021 that the new transmitters would interfere with aircraft electronics. So, the carriers agreed to put their C-band 5G expansion on hold until more research could be completed.

Limiting Power to Eliminate Danger

A letter sent to acting FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel and seen by Cnet shows that the parties have arrived at a compromise. AT&T and Verizon have agreed to limit the transmission power of their C-band 5G towers. The carriers will also abide by even more limitations near regional airports.

This agreement seems to have satisfied FAA concerns. The carriers will now resume their 5G expansion, beginning January 5, 2022. The carriers will maintain the lower-power transmission for 6 months. That will provide regulators time to evaluate what effect, if any, the cellular transmitters may have on aviation electronics. After that, both providers may be able to ramp up their transmission power.

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