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US: Telecom operators agree to 5G delay in U-turn decision

AT&T and Verizon have agreed to hold off on their 5G rollout amid concerns of problems for aircraft. The move marks a change of heart a day after they rejected the government request.

AT&T, Verizon and 5G Wireless Services

AT&T and Verizon spent billions to acquire the licenses for the frequency to be used by their 5G services

Two major US telecom operators, AT&T and Verizon, agreed on Monday evening to a further two-week delay to a planned rollout of 5G networks across the country.

The decision followed a request by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on behalf of aviation companies that were worried about the interference of 5G signals on aircraft safety devices.

The two companies had previously rejected the request after having already delayed their launch by a month.

"We've agreed to a two-week delay which promises the certainty of bringing this nation our game-changing 5G network in January," Verizon said in a statement after talks with government officials and the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).

Problems of frequency

Buttigieg and FAA chief Stephen Dickson wrote to Verizon and AT&T on Friday asking them to hold off on their nationwide launch for a maximum of two weeks.

The move was triggered by concerns of "unacceptable disruption" to flights due to possible interference from 5G signals.

The C-band frequency used by 5G is close to that used by altimeter devices on planes that measure the aircraft's altitude.

Airlines are worried about serious impacts on their flights. At the same time, the two telecom companies are eager to launch their new service after having spent billions on licenses to use the frequency.

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Limits on 5G around airports

"We know aviation safety and 5G can co-exist and we are confident further collaboration and technical assessment will allay any issues," an AT&T spokeswoman said in a statement.

Although they had initially rejected the request, both companies agreed to limit the new 5G services around major airports for six months so as to limit any possible problems for aircraft.

They had been hoping to launch in many US cities on Wednesday.

ab/fb (AP, Reuters)