How did 5G clash with an aviation device invented in the 1920s?


Still, wireless experts, including some officials at the FCC, such as Brendan Carr, a Republican member of the commission, dismiss warnings from the FAA and airlines, arguing that the 5G initiative does not pose a security risk.

Furchtgott-Roth, who teaches transportation economics at George Washington University, said to completely solve the problem that every aircraft model has to be tested. “I wouldn’t say that the new ones will work and the old ones won’t,” said Ms. Furchtgott-Roth. “In some cases, it’s the opposite.” The FAA says it’s already 62 percent cleared merchant fleet in the United States

The airline industry is working on new radio altimeter standards to address 5G interference and other issues. However, these standards are not scheduled for release until October and will only apply to new altimeters. Last week, the FAA approved five altimeter models as 5G compatible, but approvals are based on a combination of altimeter and aircraft model, and no altimeter has been approved for use on the 787s.

“The most likely solution is to replace the altimeters,” said former Boeing engineer Mr. Lemme, adding that it could take years.

Upgrading altimeters could cost billions of dollars. Airlines don’t want to carry that burden, and neither do wireless companies.

In a Brookings Institution article, former FCC chairman Mr. Wheeler outlined three potential sources of funding: the government could spend some of the $82 billion from 5G frequency sales to wireless companies; the wireless industry may have to pay additional fees for using these frequencies; or the aviation industry may have to pay for upgrades as they have long known the future of 5G.

A more urgent solution may be to make permanent the temporary limits that AT&T and Verizon have placed on 5G networks near airports. Or companies could reduce the strength of 5G signals near airports or route antennas in a way that limits or eliminates their impact on aircraft. These options will likely make 5G networks less useful in these regions and potentially unavailable to those living in the buffer zones of certain airports.

Any solution must be negotiated between the airlines and the FAA on the one hand, and the wireless companies and the FCC on the other. But Harold Feld, senior vice president of Public Knowledge, a research and advocacy group that receives funding from AT&T and Verizon, said the two camps see the problem so differently, however, that it can be difficult to come to an agreement. “The assumptions about how altimeters and 5G towers will interact in the real world from both sides are radically different.”



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