Wireless carriers AT&T and Verizon have agreed to yet another delay in rolling out their 5G C-band service after the CEOs of the nation’s 10 largest U.S. airlines warned of “catastrophic consequences” should the service be turned on tomorrow as scheduled. The latest concession on January 18 drew praise from U.S. President Joseph Biden.
In a statement released by the White House, Biden said, “I want to thank Verizon and AT&T for agreeing to delay 5G deployment around key airports and to continue working with the Department of Transportation on safe 5G deployment at this limited set of locations. This agreement will avoid potentially devastating disruptions to passenger travel, cargo operations, and our economic recovery, while allowing more than 90 percent of wireless tower deployment to occur as scheduled. This agreement protects flight safety and allows aviation operations to continue without significant disruption and will bring more high-speed internet options to millions of Americans.”
Biden added, “My team has been engaging non-stop with the wireless carriers, airlines, and aviation equipment manufacturers to chart a path forward for 5G deployment and aviation to safely co-exist—and, at my direction, they will continue to do so until we close the remaining gap and reach a permanent, workable solution around these key airports.”
Over the weekend, the FAA said it had cleared 45 percent of the U.S. commercial aircraft fleet for operation in low-visibility conditions at 48 of the 88 airports directly affected by 5G C-band interference.
But the impending 5G rollout prompted international carriers to preemptively cancel many of their U.S.-bound flights to affected airports. Earlier today, Emirates, Japan Airlines (JAL), ANA, and Air India announced canceled flights to Boston, Miami, Houston, Orlando, Seattle, Dallas, New York JFK, Newark Liberty, Chicago O’Hare, and San Francisco. JAL said it was canceling Boeing 777 service to the U.S. altogether. Emirates said it was canceling the flights “indefinitely.”