AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. rebuffed a request from federal transportation officials to delay the launch of new 5G wireless services but offered a counterproposal that would allow limited deployments to move forward this week.
The cellphone carriers said Sunday in a letter reviewed by The Wall Street Journal that they could further dim the power of their new 5G service for six months to match limits imposed by regulators in France, giving U.S. authorities more time to study more powerful signals’ effect on air traffic. The plan from the companies, which have said they plan to start service Wednesday, could prolong a standoff between the telecom and aviation industries over how to proceed.
“If U.S. airlines are permitted to operate flights every day in France, then the same operating conditions should allow them to do so in the United States,” the chief executives wrote in the letter.
Telecom-industry officials have pointed to dozens of countries, including France, that have already allowed cellular service over the frequencies in question, known as C-band. France is among the countries that have imposed wireless limits near airports while regulators study their effect on aircraft.
The message from AT&T T, -0.73% CEO John Stankey and Verizon VZ, -0.56% CEO Hans Vestberg was in response to a letter Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Federal Aviation Administration chief Steve Dickson sent late Friday. The New Year’s Eve missive asked the carriers to postpone their planned 5G launch by “no more than two weeks” while officials worked to address the wireless services’ effect on specific airports on a rolling basis over the coming weeks.
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