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AT&T and Verizon agree to a two-week delay in the rollout of 5G near airports



AT&T and Verizon have agreed to delay their planned 5G infrastructure rollouts near airports by two weeks, averting — for the time being — widespread disruptions to air travel and shipping, as well as a potential legal battle.


Both carriers confirmed late Monday evening that they will delay activating 5G services near airports until January 19, and that officials will work to adapt French-style 5G restrictions to the United States in the meantime.


"At the request of Secretary [of Transportation Pete] Buttigieg, we have agreed to extend our deployment of C-Band 5G services by an additional two weeks," an AT&T spokesperson said in a statement. "Additionally, we remain committed to the six-month mitigation measures outlined in our letter. We are confident that aviation safety and 5G can coexist, and that additional collaboration and technical assessment will alleviate any concerns."


AT&T (T) is the parent company of WarnerMedia, the company that owns CNN.


According to Verizon (VZ) spokesman Rich Young, the company has also agreed to a two-week delay. He stated that the delay "ensures that this nation will receive our game-changing 5G network in January, delivered over America's best and most reliable network."


The announcement comes as officials from the aviation industry were expected to sue the Federal Communications Commission in a last-ditch attempt to prevent the rollout from taking effect on Jan. 5. According to an airline industry official, preparations to file the court petition were already underway when news of the agreement arrived, and the litigation would be paused in light of the two-week extension.


The official added that negotiators had been hard at work behind the scenes "frantically to reach an agreement" and that Monday's outcome may "appear a little dramatic, but that is how things sometimes work. This could be a really good result in the interim."


The Federal Aviation Administration issued an urgent warning in December that it intended to prohibit pilots from using a critical aircraft instrument due to concerns that 5G signals could interfere with the devices — a move that the agency predicted would likely result in widespread flight delays and diversions.


The FAA expressed gratitude to wireless carriers in a statement.


"Safety is at the heart of our mission, and it guides every decision we make," the agency stated. "We look forward to utilizing the additional time and space provided by this 5G deployment to minimize flight disruptions."

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