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AT&T, Verizon Delay 5G Service Near Some Airports

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Airlines say 5G technology can interfere with onboard instruments, which could lead to the grounding of thousands of flights.

Credit: Karsten Moran/The New York Times

Verizon and AT&T said on Tuesday that they would delay the expansion of new 5G cellular service near some airports, a pause that President Biden said would avert potentially devastating disruptions that airlines had been warning about for months.

The broader expansion of 5G — which provides much faster access to the internet than current wireless technology — is set for Wednesday after multiple delays.

Aviation regulators and airlines repeatedly raised concerns that the new technology would interfere with safety equipment used to determine a plane's altitude. The telecommunications industry has countered that regulators and airlines have had years to prepare for 5G.

It was not immediately clear whether the changes that AT&T and Verizon announced midday were enough to prevent severe flight disruptions on Wednesday. A few foreign carriers canceled flights to the United States, while Delta Air Lines said it was preparing for possible disruptions should bad weather trigger some flight restrictions still in place for the 5G rollout. Other major U.S. airlines and an industry trade group said late in the day that they were still trying to understand the details of the delay. Wireless companies and Mr. Biden did not say how long the pause would last.


From The New York Times
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