SAN FRANCISCO - The clash between two powerful entities, the telecom and airline industries, as well as two powerful federal agencies is causing yet another headache for air travelers beginning Wednesday.
On Monday, bad weather played a key role in the cancellation of well over 1600 flights in the U.S.
During bad weather, pilots and passengers want every bit of safety technology working when the plane is landing and close to the ground. As of Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration says only 45% of commercial passenger and cargo aircraft have authorization for low-visibility landings at many airports.
Those airports are where telecom giants such as AT&T and Verizon, have deployed 5things might have to wait to either land or divert to alternative airports."
5G is simply the faster fifth generation of cell phone signals. It was acquired by phone companies when TV stations exchanged them for digital TV bands. The FAA is concerned that potential interference between the hi-speed and powerful telecom equipment might interfere with aircraft systems like altimeters, critical to safe operations when visibility is low.
But the issue may really be a turf battle between the FAA and Federal Communications Commission; not aircraft and telecom systems says Bay Area says tech analyst Bob O'Donnell.
"Would those things potentially interfere with each other? Of course not. So, the science of it is absolutely clear that there's not going to be any problems," said O'Donnell.
The 5G C-band, was used in satellite television for decades, without aircraft incidents.
"These exact same frequencies are being used in many countries all over the world, around the airports and there have been zero issues," said O'Donnell.
But with some passenger confidence at stake, signal experts are hard at work.
"All the big filter manufacturers are in and they're doing a great job of fielding new technology that are getting deployed that are gonna mitigate any potential interference issues," said Holmes.
The FAA has yet to fully disclose which airports already have adequate buffer zones well away from 5G towers. Some with buffer zones include San Francisco, San Jose, and 48 others. No mention was made of Oakland Airport.