5G in airports is of great concern to the aeronautical sector


Since last February in the United States, the major telephone operators have banned the broadcasting of 5G signals in areas around airports. This agreement signed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) until July 2023 could extend very far beyond this date.

And for good reason, giants of the American aeronautical industry united within the Aerospace Industries Association and Airlines for America have just met with the authorities and wish to extend this ban permanently.

Fear of airlines

As you can imagine, these measures would not necessarily be to the liking of operators. Contacted by our colleagues from cnet, the main of them, Verizon, adopts a very polished and cautious speech: “We continue to have positive discussions with the FCC, and progress is being made. We are encouraged to see that airlines are also making progress on these issues.”

Recently, discussions have started with AT&T and Verizon who can activate their services in the C-band range with a view to improving their 5G coverage. However, the latter must be limited near airports in prohibited areas that have been formally established. It now remains to be seen what the authorities will decide, who will have to arbitrate here between two divergent interests and find common ground.

Remember that the fear of airlines comes from the proximity between these frequencies used for 5G and that of radio altimeters. This risk of interference seems to be taken very seriously by those concerned.

How does France manage this problem?

A question also arises: where are we in France? The situation is less problematic compared to the United States, since the frequency used for 5G is better differentiated from that of radio altimeters. At Uncle Sam, the operators are less well regulated than in Europe and broadcast more widely than on the old continent, thereby increasing the risk of interference.

Similarly, in France, the telecom giants have anticipated the problem a little better than their American counterparts by directing their nearby relay antennas towards the ground and not towards the sky in order to avoid any interaction with planes or a disturbance of radio altimeters.

Finally, and to avoid any problems, the radio altimeters used in airports are currently being upgraded to better take 5G into account. It is the French industrial group Thales which has taken over this project, for a delivery which should take place in 2023, if all goes well.

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