The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has published the list of 50 airports around which it wants Verizon and AT&T to create “5G buffer” zones as they roll out their C-Band networks.
The Department of Transportation previously asked Verizon and AT&T to delay the deployment of their C-Band networks from Dec. 5, 2021 to Jan. 5 due to concerns about interference affecting the altimeters used by commercial aircraft. Then on Jan. 2 the FAA asked the carriersto push back the debut of their C-Band networks again so it could investigate those safety risks.
The FAA said at the time that it would “identify priority airports where a buffer zone would permit aviation operations to continue safely while the FAA completes its assessments of the interference potential around those airports.” Verizon and AT&T agreed to delay the launch of their C-Band networks for two weeks and respect the buffer zones designated by the FAA.
The administration says in its announcement that “the wireless companies agreed to turn off transmitters and make other adjustments near these airports for six months to minimize potential 5G interference with sensitive aircraft instruments used in low-visibility landings.”
Now we know around which airports the FAA wants to establish this “5G buffer.” The list of 50 priority airports includes travel hubs like the John F Kennedy airport in New York and international airports in San Francisco, Dallas-Fort Worth, Philadelphia as well as regional airports such as LaGuardia, Akron-Canton, and Hanscom Field, among dozens of other US airports.
Reuters reports that the FAA’s list was informed by Verizon and AT&T’s coverage maps—in some cases “5G towers are far enough away that a natural buffer exists,” the FAA says, according to the report—as well as a given airport’s existing capabilities.