AT&T, Verizon’s Second Delay to 5G Operations on C-Band Garners Biden Praise

President Joe Biden on Tuesday praised the decision by AT&T and Verizon to delay 5G operations on C-band spectrum, saying doing so will ensure there won’t be disruptions in air operations over the next two weeks. The president thanked AT&T and Verizon, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for reaching an agreement as the result of many negotiations over the past several weeks.

Verizon and AT&T previously agreed to delay 5G operations on C-band for one month, which ran out yesterday. Most recently, they said they were holding firm to the January 5 start date, Inside Towers reported.

On Monday night, following pressure from the White House and the airline industry over concerns the deployment would cause flight delays and interruptions, they changed course, and agreed to a second delay, according to The Hill. The 5G deployment is now set to take place on January 19. 

Biden called the latest agreement “a significant step in the right direction,” one that “ensures that there will be no disruptions to air operations over the next two weeks.” The president said his administration is “committed to rapid 5G deployment,” as well as minimizing disruptions and maintaining safe airspace.

An AT&T spokesperson said, “At Secretary Buttigieg’s request, we have voluntarily agreed to one additional two-week delay of our deployment of C-band 5G services. We also remain committed to the six-month protection zone mitigations we outlined in our letter. We know aviation safety and 5G can co-exist and we are confident further collaboration and technical assessment will allay any issues.”

AT&T was referring to protection zones both carriers agreed to earlier, offering to operate at lower power for six months and to exclude 5G operations around certain airports nationwide, Inside Towers reported.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said the agreement “provides the framework and the certainty needed to achieve our shared goal of deploying 5G swiftly while ensuring air safety. It was made possible by the FCC, DOT, FAA, the wireless companies, and the aviation industry working together to share data, bring together technical experts, and collaborate in good faith to ensure the coexistence of wireless and aviation technologies.”

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

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