ORLANDO, Fla. – Few airlines in Central Florida saw disruptions to flights Wednesday after AT&T and Verizon said they would postpone 5G mobile phone service near some airports, including Orlando International Airport.
The telecom companies activated 90% of their new ultra-fast wireless networks on Wednesday.
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Some airlines said they were warned that the Boeing 777, a plane used by carriers worldwide, was particularly affected by the new high-speed wireless service.
Emirates announced flights to and from Orlando would be cancelled for an unknown amount of time. It wasn’t immediately clear why the airline made the decision.
“We are working closely with aircraft manufacturers and the relevant authorities to alleviate operational concerns, and we hope to resume our U.S. services as soon as possible,” the state-owned airline said.
Similar mobile networks have been deployed in dozens of other countries — but there are differences in how the U.S. network works that could make it more likely to cause problems for airlines.
The new 5G networks use a segment of the radio spectrum that is close to that used by radio altimeters, which measure the height of the aircraft above the ground and help pilots land in low visibility. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which sets a buffer between the frequency that 5G uses and the one that altimeters use, determined that it could be used safely in the vicinity of air traffic.
AT&T and Verizon have said their equipment will not interfere with aircraft electronics.
The FCC’s chairwoman said in a statement that the 5G “deployment can safely co-exist with aviation technologies in the United States, just as it does in other countries around the world.” However, Jessica Rosenworcel urged the FAA to conduct its safety checks with “both care and speed.”
AT&T and Verizon spent tens of billions of dollars for the 5G spectrum known as C-Band in a government auction last year.