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World

5G launches in US without huge impact on flights

  • Handful of international carriers remove flights to the US from their schedules Wednesday, but there were no mass cancellations
19 Jan, 2022

NEW YORK: Telecom giants AT&T and Verizon began 5G service in the United States Wednesday without major disruptions to flights after the launch of the new wireless technology was scaled back.

A handful of international carriers removed flights to the United States from their schedules Wednesday, but there were not mass cancellations and some of those companies planned to resume service on Thursday.

At 1630 GMT Wednesday, about 215 flights either planned to depart or land in US airports were cancelled, according to the website FlightAware. That figure is less than the 538 reported last Wednesday, although the number could climb throughout the day.

Airlines that had cut flights for Wednesday included Emirates, Air India, ANA and Japan Airlines.

Both ANA and Japan Airlines said they were restoring service on Thursday after assurances from regulators at the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

US airlines warn of 'calamity' if 5G deployed near airports

"As the launch of the 5G service in the US has now been partially postponed, operation of ANA flights from Jan. 20 will follow the normal schedule based on FAA notification that there is no safety issue with the operation of Boeing 777 aircraft to the US airports that we serve," said a statement from ANA President Yuji Hirako.

Telecom giants spent tens of billions of dollars to obtain 5G licenses last year but aviation industry groups have raised concerns about possible interference with airplanes' radio altimeters -- which can operate at the same frequencies -- particularly in bad weather.

On Tuesday, both AT&T and Verizon agreed to scale back the launch of 5G near airports following an outcry from US airlines, who warned of mass disruptions.

AT&T said Wednesday its high-speed service was available in "limited parts" of eight major metropolitan areas across the United States, while Verizon said it now provides 5G coverage to 90 million Americans.

Hans Vestberg told CNBC that he was confident the issues with the airline industry would be "cleared out" following collaboration with "all involved parties, including the White House."

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