AT&T's C-Band 5G rollout gets going in eight metro areas

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,038   +150
Staff member
What just happened? AT&T is now activating C-Band 5G networks in limited parts of eight metro areas across the US after having followed a voluntary six-week pause to give the Federal Aviation Administration and the aviation industry more time to complete deployment evaluations.

Customers in Austin, Chicago, Dallas Ft. Worth, Detroit, Jacksonville, Houston, Orlando and parts of South Florida should soon have access to AT&T’s new 5G+ service.

C-Band is a mid-band spectrum that sits between AT&T’s low-band (far reaching) 5G service and high-band (mmWave) offering, the latter being incredibly fast but has limited reach. As such, it is typically deployed in densely populated areas like entertainment districts, sports stadiums and other venues.

Wireless carriers including AT&T and Verizon haven’t been too pleased with the FAA’s response to the 5G rollout. In a statement issued on January 18, 2022, AT&T noted that the administration had not utilized the two years they had to responsibly plan for the deployment.

“We are frustrated by the FAA’s inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services, and we urge it do so in a timely manner.” -- AT&T

The FAA and airlines are concerned that C-Band waves could interfere with sensitive equipment on some aircraft like the altimeter, which is used to help land the craft in low visibility. According to The New York Times, airlines canceled around 240 flights on Wednesday in response to carriers' moves.

AT&T said it already has 17 devices available online and in stores that are compatible with its new C-Band service.

Image credit: Igor, Ahmed Muntasir

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Toju Mikie

Posts: 278   +265
It looks like AT&T put new 5G service where it's needed, especially in Texas where Comcast basically owns the whole state and can pretty much write their own laws preventing competition from other ISPs in that state (especially municipal broadband). Luckily, that law doesn't affect 5G/LTE providers but I'm sure there will be some lobbyists coming up with some bogus reason on why this 5G expansion shouldn't happen.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,663   +7,563
If indeed (as reported) 5G has serious impacts on aircraft there needs to be some kind of built in system that will step it back to 4G or turn it off completely once an aircraft is boarded. It might be possible that better shielding will resolve the problem but all of this should have been worked out prior to it's grand scale launching. In any case, putting the flying public at risk for the sake of better speed isn't a good reason to allow it.
 

brucek

Posts: 1,103   +1,618
Very frustrating given the high stakes and massive budgets that accompany both the 5G rollouts, and aviation air safety. Any possible ambiguity should have been conclusively proved one way or the other several years ago.

The FAA appears to be near alone in believing there is a problem. That said, the FCC, the competing agency that says everything is fine, is the same agency that thinks the billion or so spam phone calls a day all with fake caller ID data is also fine, so I'm not sure who to trust here.