AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. agreed to delay by two weeks a new 5G service that airlines said might interfere with aircraft electronics and pose a safety hazard.
The companies issued separate statements on Monday night, two days before their planned Jan. 5 launch, and one day after rebuffing a request for delay from U.S. transportation officials. The action came after a flurry of calls directed at the industry and the White House from aviation groups seeking a delay, and as airlines threatened legal action.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration had been planning to issue hundreds of notices with specific restrictions for airport runways, heliports and other flight routes, which it said could cause significant disruptions to the aviation system.
The issue involves a new band of faster 5G wireless service that is located near frequencies used by aircraft equipment to compute altitude. Aviation groups and the FAA fear it could compromise safety, especially in low visibility conditions. The wireless companies and the Federal Communications Commission, which approved the service, have said there isn’t a risk.
“It’s clear that this irresponsible rollout of 5G wasn’t ready for takeoff,” Joe DePete, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, said in a statement. “Now the real work begins.”