AT&T and Verizon aren’t delaying their 5G expansions any further after all. Bloombergnotes the two carriers’ CEOs have issued a joint letter rejecting a request from the FAA and Transportation Department to stall their C-band service rollouts beyond January 5th to address concerns of interference with aircraft systems. The companies argued that the government’s proposed plan would effectively give oversight of the network expansions to the FAA for an “undetermined number of months or years,” and wouldn’t cover rivals like T-Mobile.
The move would represent an “irresponsible abdication” of network control, the CEOs said. They also believed honoring the request would be to the “detriment” of customers.
Instead, AT&T and Verizon tried to negotiate a compromise. They vowed not to deploy C-band 5G towers near some airports for six months, but only so long as the aviation industry and regulators didn’t do more to halt C-band deployments. American transportation agencies had asked on December 31st for a general delay no longer than two weeks, but called for a gradual deployment of service near “priority” airports through March to safeguard important runways.
It’s not clear how the FAA and Transportation Department will respond. The rejection isn’t shocking, mind you. C-band service promises to deliver more of the long-touted speed advantages of 5G without the short range and poor indoor service of millimeter wave technology. It could also add capacity to keep 5G networks running smoothly as more users upgrade their devices. However, officials and the aviation industry have a lot to lose as well —they’re worried C-band 5G could disrupt flights and put passengers at risk. You might not see either side capitulate quickly.