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Here’s a headline that’s sure to get the conspiracy theorists going: the FAA has just issued an expanded safety warning about the possibility that Verzion and AT&T’s imminent decision to turn on more 5G wireless spectrum could interfere with airplane communications as the battle to slow the rollout intensifies.

It comes as the transition to 5G spectrum for smartphone users, who have become ubiquitous, continues. Verizon and AT&T have already delayed the rollout of new C-band spectrum after being asked by the FAA, but they’re growing impatient and worried about falling behind Europe and (more importantly) China. The FCC has approved of turning on the spectrum, but some within the FAA still feel it could potentially interfere with plane’s altimeters, a prospect that should terrify anybody who flies.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there’s an easy answer here. Because in its latest statement, the FAA said  the 5G rollout currently being planned could threaten “numerous” safety systems used by planes, not just the altimeters.

The announcement from the FAA comes just one day after Boeing and Airbus joined the government agency (which is still recuperating from the embarrassment of regulatory capture it suffered in the scandals over Boeing’s botched rollout of the Boeing 787 MAX 8) in pushing the Obama Administration for supporting more delays, even as the FCC and CTIA, a wireless industry group, insist C-band spectrum has already proven to be safe because other countries have rolled it out without causing a surge in airplane incidents.

If Verizon and AT&T go ahead with their plans to turn on more spectrum, it could potentially lead to more delays if cell towers near airports aren’t tuned to different frequencies, according to Twitter’s Mark Spiegel.

The FAA added that it’s working diligently to allow aviation to “peaceably coexist” with 5G C-band usage.



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