Key U.S. government, wireless, and airline stakeholders have agreed to a partial extension of the 5G C-band mitigation by cellular companies Verizon and AT&T that was to expire July 5. The wireless companies agreed to continued mitigation in select markets while the airlines pledged to speed radar altimeter retrofits in potentially impacted aircraft to negate any potential C-band interference.
This morning, FAA acting administrator Billy Nolen said, “We believe we have identified a path that will continue to enable aviation and 5G C-band wireless to safely coexist. We appreciate the willingness of Verizon and AT&T to continue this important and productive collaboration with the aviation industry.”
Under a framework of continuing cooperation, operators of regional aircraft with radio altimeters most susceptible to interference will retrofit them with radio frequency filters by the end of 2022. The FAA said that this work has already begun and will continue on an expedited basis. Concurrently, the FAA will continue to work with the wireless carriers to identify airports where it is unlikely that nearby deployment of 5G C-band will disrupt flight operations.
The FAA noted that “filters and replacement units for the mainline commercial fleet should be available on a schedule that would permit the work to be largely completed by July 2023. After that time, the wireless companies expect to operate their networks in urban areas with minimal restrictions.”
In January, the FAA and wireless carriers agreed to keep C-band mitigations in place until July 5 while continuing to perform technical analysis and hold a series of stakeholder roundtable meetings. Based on the progress of those meetings, AT&T and Verizon agreed to continue voluntary mitigations for another year.
The FAA praised the efforts of the wireless companies as well as those of "radio altimeter manufacturers [who] have worked at an unprecedented pace with Embraer, Boeing, Airbus, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to develop and test filters and installation kits for these aircraft."