Home World News the deployment of 5G near airports (still) postponed

the deployment of 5G near airports (still) postponed


After several days of imbroglio across the Atlantic, the deployment of 5G is once again suspended near certain American airports. Carriers AT&T and Verizon were scheduled to activate the new super-fast mobile internet technology nationwide this Wednesday, January 19. But the US aviation authority, the FAA, is concerned about possible interference between the frequencies used by 5G and those used by onboard instruments essential for landing planes under certain conditions, and has demanded adjustments. .

As early as the evening of January 17, the bosses of ten air transport companies had called on the authorities to intervene ” at once “ in order to prevent “a major disruption” traffic. In particular, they asked not to deploy 5G within a radius of 2 miles (3.2 km) around airports. In this context, AT&T and Verizon, which have already postponed the deployment of this technology on several occasions since December, have agreed to again temporarily postpone the activation of mobile phone towers around certain airport runways, while maintaining the launch of 5G in the rest of the country.

Frequencies close to those of radars

The problem began to grow in November, after the publication by the FAA of a bulletin on radio altimeters, instruments measuring the distance separating the plane from the ground which can be essential in the event of poor visibility. Certain frequencies allocated for tens of billions of dollars at the beginning of 2021 to AT & T and Verizon for the deployment of their 5G, which range from 3.7 to 3.98 gigahertz (GHz), are indeed close to those used by these radars, which operate in the 4.2 to 4.4 GHz spectrum. This low deviation of 0.2 GHz could create interference.

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If there is no risk of direct interference, the transmit power of the 5G antennas or some of the upward-pointing emissions could cause problems for some altimeters that may be interfered with by these nearby frequencies.

Anticipated risks in France

In Europe, the core frequency band for 5G has been delimited between 3.4 and 3.8 GHz, frequencies less close to those of radio altimeters than across the Atlantic, which limits the risk of interference. Despite everything, since the publication of the report on the possible interferences of the RTCA, (equivalent in the United States of the European Organization for the equipment of the civil aviation, Editor’s note) Europe and the United States carry out studies for more accurately assess the risk of interference.

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In France, the reference authority is the National Frequency Agency (ANFR) and it closely monitors the issue. “We took this issue seriously. We have asked the four telecom operators to respect certain constraints for 5G antennas located near landing zones” explained Gilles Brégant, the director of the ANFR to the magazine the new factory. It must be said that France is well advanced on the subject and immediately set up a “protective protocol” around large airports: 5G antennas can only be deployed at low power in an area of ​​1 km on either side of the runway.

But beyond the precautionary measures applied by its operators, France wishes to better assess the risk incurred. The ANFR indicates that it has launched a series of studies at European level and test campaigns at French level in order to verify whether radio altimeters are really blinded by 5G frequencies. “So far we haven’t seen any issues, but we’re still testing. Once all these tests and studies have been completed, we should be able to lift the constraints imposed on operators” says its director.

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