Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

Your 5G phone may soon start working as surprisingly fast as the 5G phone you heard in TV commercials. January 19, Verizon and AT&T Plans to launch New cellular frequency that will increase the connectivity of millions of phones across the United States. Once these wind waves are activated, you should be able to Download a song to your phone in just a few seconds.

This is thanks to the addition of C-band frequencies, which can not only improve speed but also extend 5G coverage. This is welcome news for those who own or plan to purchase one of these devices 10 times faster Compared to their 4G predecessors when the 5G network is fully operational. But this update relies on a known but unexpected critic of cellular technology: the Federal Aviation Administration.

What does 5G have to do with aircraft? Not too much, the argument of radio carriers hoping to establish technology. But the FAA says it is concerned that the C-band could intervene Some radio altimeters, Aircraft safety equipment that relies on nearby airwaves. The company is so concerned that it is fighting Delay in 5G installation And has prepared guidelines that may be Flight canceled From airports operating near certain 5G antennas, this means that anyone who flies or has one of these devices can be affected.

It is not clear if 5G is a problem for these altimeters. After all, 5G itself is not entirely new. 5G smartphones are on Market since 2019And last year, About 90 million of these devices Sent to the United States alone. Wireless carriers have promised that 5G technology will simply not exist High speed but low latency, Which will function Streaming media and video calls Achieveable without any gaps.

But the wireless companies to make 5G a reality Has cost more than 81 81 billion To purchase the right to use certain parts of the radio spectrum – in particular, the C-band frequency 3.7 and 3.98 GHz. Wireless providers use different frequencies to transmit data between cellphones and transmission stations, such as phone towers, which connect those devices to the Internet. Each band of frequency brings its own advantages and disadvantages.

The C-band is considered a Sweet place An important part of the 5G ambitions of spectrum and wireless companies. 5G phones can already connect to the millimeter wave spectrum, which operates at very high frequencies. The Millimeter wave frequency band Supports very high speeds and can carry a lot of data but does not stretch too much. 5G phones can connect to low-band spectrum, operating at much lower frequencies. Low-band frequencies can cover large areas but only support a small amount of data, which makes it slow. The C-band is basically a medium ground between low-band and millimeter waves, so it covers a good amount of area with quite high speeds. Once they are turned on, these frequencies should eventually suffice See a real difference Between 5G and 4G Your daily life.

Flight regulators are very nervous about this C-band update because of how it could affect Radio altimeter of specific aircraft. This device Radio transmits waves From an aircraft to the ground to help measure the height of an aircraft. Altimeters are especially useful a Cloudy Day or within A hilly area, When pilots do not see where they are landing. The problem is that the altimeter depends on some part of the spectrum which is the neighbor of the wind wave used by the C-band. In the event of a nightmare, the FAA thinks that the signal transmitted through the C-band may interfere with these altimeters – Especially the old altimeter – Creating a potential security problem. Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission has already decided that 5G will not pose A problem for modern altimeters, And similar 5G technologies have already been installed in Europe without any problems.

To give these airlines more time to address these concerns, Verizon and AT&T Delayed Twice their C-band rollout. The update was originally scheduled for December 5, but after Transport Secretary Pete Bootigig, carriers agreed to push that deadline to one month, and then another two weeks to January 19. The foot fell. But the FAAO Announcement Flights that could rely on a radio altimeter in December need to be rescheduled if there is a risk of 5G interference. That warning, in effect, puts pressure on Verizon and AT&T against the entire airline industry. With flight cancellations at risk, airlines, as well Pilots And Flight attendantThe unions have rallied against 5G, arguing that their industry can no longer cope.

Sarah Nelson, president of the Flight Attendants Union, said, “In the ongoing epidemic, air traffic has already expanded to a breaking point.” A recent statement. “Adding strains and creating potentially dangerous situations will only make a bad situation worse.”

There is a peace plan, though it is uncertain. Wireless carriers and airlines agreed last year to test how well some radio altimeters work. Real world situation And the FAA is hoping for a lift Restrictions on aircraft, One by one, such airlines prove that their altimeters can work when the C-band is on. Wireless providers have also promised that they will not transmit C-band 50 airports Selected by the FAA for at least six months, so you still can’t blame 5G for any delays or cancellations at those airports. If you have a 5G phone and live within a mile One of these airportsAlthough, you may be a little more frustrated.

But the stalemate raises the question of why U.S. regulators were not better prepared for the moment. After all, 5G is not the first new generation of wireless technology The FAA has encountered. It is also possible that history itself is repeating itself, and the FAA is letting wireless carriers and airlines work to prove to agencies that the C-band is safe, rather than taking an active position on its own. The FAA only lifted its unilateral ban on the use of phones and laptops on airplanes in 2013, a move that followed a year-long campaign. Consumer technology industry and frustrated passengers Who argued that these devices could not cause interference problems.

Wireless carriers certainly hope that they have explained enough and can finally start the process of launching C-band, which will bring better 5G coverage for their customers. But we should not hold our breath. History has shown that the FAA is not a fan of cellphone technology, and there is no reason to believe that the agency will not stall or disrupt things again.

This story was first published in the Recode newsletter. Register here So don’t miss the next one!

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