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US airlines warn Verizon and AT&T not to rollout 5G near airports

The chief executives of America’s largest airlines has warned ahead of Wednesday’s 5G service rollout that the technology should be limited near US airports, or risk “significant operational disruption” to travel and shipping.

“We are writing with urgency to request that 5G be implemented everywhere in the country except within the approximate 2 miles of airport runways as defined by the FAA,” the CEOs wrote in a Monday letter, which was obtained by AFP news agency –– and also signed by shipping giants FedEx and UPS.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Sunday it had approved some transponders to be safely operated within areas where 5G will be deployed, clearing “as many as 48 of the 88 airports most directly affected by 5G C-band interference.”

The airlines are worried that remaining limitations at those airports, as well as a large amount of equipment still uncertified, could cause major disruptions.

“Immediate intervention is needed to avoid significant operational disruption to air passengers, shippers, supply chain and delivery of needed medical supplies,” the CEOs wrote.

“In addition to the chaos caused domestically,” the letter continues, the lack of certified planes “could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas.”

Meanwhile, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee and the head of an aviation subcommittee urged AT&T and Verizon Communications to delay some 5G deployments set for Wednesday around key US airport runways.

Representative Peter DeFazio, the committee chair, and Representative Rick Larsen, who chairs an aviation subcommittee, said the Federal Aviation Administration and aviation industry must have “more time to thoroughly assess the risks of deployment in order to avoid potentially disastrous disruptions to our national airspace system.”

Verizon and AT&T, who won contracts to operate 5G in the 3.7-3.8 GHz frequency bands, have twice delayed the launch of their new technology, due to warnings from the airlines and aircraft manufacturers.

Unless the major telecommunications companies are blocked by federal regulators or reach an agreement with the airlines, they are scheduled to turn on their 5G service nationwide on January 19.

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