Does 5G pose a threat to airline safety?

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THE next generation of 5G wireless technology is expected to open a future with new and exciting possibilities, designed for unlocking real-time decision-making and revolutionising user experiences.

It is perceived as a game-changer with a speed that can reach up to 100 times faster than its predecessor.

However, airline industries were not keen on the said technological advancement.

Heated debates on the issue between telcos and airline companies in the United States (US) have been ongoing for weeks, over the potential impact of 5G technology on aircraft, with the concern about interference on the airline safety systems.

So, does 5G technology really pose a threat to airline safety?

Telco giants, Verizon Communication and AT&T, have come to a consensus and agreed to a two-week delay in their 5G rollouts.

In early 2021, the US auctioned mid-range 5G bandwidth to mobile phone companies in the 3.7-3.98 GHz range, also known as the C-band, creating concerns within the US aviation industry that it risks disrupting flight equipment.

As background information, the airline industry uses radar altimeters to measure altitudes, which help lower the risks of accidents or collisions by giving accurate readings of the proximity to the ground.

Airline companies have expressed their concern that there is not enough of a buffer from the 5G frequencies, warning that the issue could disrupt up to 4% of daily flights.

The rollout of 5G services elsewhere on the other hand has broadly gone ahead without any airline safety concern.

For instance, the European Union (EU) has set standards in 2019 for 5G frequencies in the 3.4-3.8 GHz range, where airline radar altimeters operate within the 4.2 to 4.4 GHz range.

In South Korea, the 5G mobile communication frequency is 3.42-3.7 GHz band.

However, so far there has been no report of interference with radio waves since the commercialisation of 5G technology in April 2019. – TVS

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