Major telecommunications companies Verizon and AT&T delayed the rollout of their 5G technology near certain airports after a letter from the heads of major U.S. airlines warned of â€œcatastrophic disruptionâ€ to travel.
Verizon said in a statement Tuesday that it would go forward with its planned Wednesday launch of the 5G Ultra Wideband network, but â€œvoluntarily decided to limitâ€ its implementation around airports.
AT&T similarly said it would â€œtemporarily defer turning on a limited number of towers around certain airport runways.â€ The company took aim at the Federal Aviation Administration, saying it was â€œfrustrated by the FAAâ€™s inability â€¦ to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services.â€
In a letter to the FAA and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Monday, the CEOs of major U.S. airlines â€” including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways and United Airlines â€” called for â€œimmediate action to address 5G interference with [the] national aviation system.â€
Airline heads warned of potential â€œcatastrophic disruptionâ€ to air travel and shipping if 5G were to be deployed around airports, asking that the technology not be implemented within 2 miles of airport runways.
â€œUnless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially be grounded,â€ the airlines warned.
Aviation regulators had put in place restrictions to avoid interference between the new wireless service and airplane equipment. The FAA previously said that 5G interference could affect key airplane tools and particularly make flight operations more risky in poor weather.
The FAA did not immediately respond to HuffPostâ€™s request for comment.
The agency previously told Reuters that it â€œwill continue to ensure that the traveling public is safe as wireless companies deploy 5G,â€ and that it was working â€œwith the aviation industry and wireless companies to try to limit 5G-related flight delays and cancellations.â€
In a statement Tuesday, President Joe Biden thanked Verizon and AT&T for delaying deployment of 5G around â€œkey airports,â€ saying this would â€œavoid potentially devastating disruptions to passenger travel, cargo operations, and our economic recovery.â€