The FAA has released a list of airports that will have temporary buffer zones around them that will ban new 5G coverage set to go live later in January for six months. The agency and aviation industry will work to ensure current aircraft equipment won’t be disrupted by the new frequencies carriers will use to expand their 5G networks.
The list of airports includes some of the largest international hubs across the US, like John F. Kennedy International in New York City, Los Angeles International and Chicago’s O’Hare International. They include areas where carriers plan to activate 5G coverage in the C-band of frequencies on Jan. 19. Traffic volume, the number of low-visibility days and geographic location all factored into which airports would require buffer zones on Friday.
Wireless companies including AT&T and Verizon will switch off transmitters and make other adjustments to C-band 5G Signals in the 3.7-3.98GHz frequencies around airports in these buffer zones. That will keep them from interfering with aviation equipment operating in the 4.2-4.4GHz frequencies.That equipment includes radio altimeters, which provide accurate height readings to aircraft systems, including navigation and collision avoidance. The FAA and aviation industry have been concerned that C-band signals will interfere with readings that aircraft rely on when landing at airports during rough weather and low visibility.
The temporary buffer zones encompass slightly more than a mile around landing runways that completely ban C-band 5G Signals, providing planes with 20 seconds of signal-free time while they come in for a landing. The wireless industry has a more specific outline for the zones, which will extend for 2,100 meters in front of and behind runways, as well as 910 meters on either side. Carriers will reduce C-band signal in a narrower 6,100-meter path ahead of and behind runways and limit signal power above the horizon.