WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — The launch of 5G networks by telecommunication providers in the U.S. led to flight cancellations from around the world due to safety concerns, and lawmakers say the rollout was a disaster that threatened aviation safety.
“It’s embarrassing,” said Rep. Garrett Graves (R-LA) “And I’ll say it again, it’s ridiculous and inexcusable.”
The 5G networks can interfere with the equipment planes use to land especially in low visibility.
“Having a dropped call is way less serious than having a dropped airplane out of the sky,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR).
Both Republicans and Democrats chastised the FAA and the FCC saying the two federal agencies failed to work together and plan in advance even though they knew of the potential problems for years.
Defazio said telecommunications companies complicated the problem by trying to keep the location of their 5G towers secret.
“It can’t be proprietary data,” DeFazio said. “You can’t just plop one down next to a critical approach into an airport.”
In late December 2020, the telecommunications providers reached an agreement to share data with the FAA and then launched their services with restrictions near airports with low visibility.
“While we have avoided significant disruption to commercial aviation, we recognize that some communities and operations have been affected,” said Stephen Dickson, an FAA administrator.
While serious problems were avoided, lawmakers remain worried about the future because the agreement between the telecommunication companies and FAA is only in place until July.