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The rollout of 5G in the US will be delayed until at least January 19 after AT&T and Verizon backed down in a fight over aircraft safety

A Spirit Airlines plane at Los Angeles International Airport.

AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images/Getty

  • AT&T and Verizon agreed Monday to a two-week delay to their 5G network rollouts.
  • The companies earlier rejected a request for a delay from flight safety authorities.
  • There are concerns that the 5G rollout could interfere with safety equipment on aircraft.

Telecom providers AT&T and Verizon have backed down in a fight with the Federal Aviation Authority and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg over the rollout of their 5G networks. It means that the rollout of 5G in the US will be delayed until at least January 19.

Buttigieg and the FAA sent a letter to the two companies on December 31 asking them to delay their planned rollout of new C-band 5G networks by two weeks, citing concerns over disruption to plane safety equipment. The letter said the disruption could have a knock-on effect that would cause flights to be diverted or canceled.

AT&T and Verizon rejected the request in a letter on Sunday, but both companies reversed their position on Monday evening, per statements provided to multiple news outlets.

“At Secretary Buttigieg’s request, we have voluntarily agreed to one additional two-week delay of our deployment of C-Band 5G services,” an AT&T spokesperson told CNN.

A Verizon spokesperson told CNN that the delay “promises the certainty of bringing this nation our game-changing 5G network in January.”

This isn’t the first time the companies have delayed their 5G rollouts. AT&T and Verizon were originally scheduled to bring their 5G networks online in November 2021 but the date was pushed back to January 5 after the FAA raised concerns that the new frequencies could interfere with safety equipment on aircraft.

AT&T and Verizon did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider on why they had reversed their positions.

The telecoms industry has argued that fears that 5G could affect aircraft equipment are overblown. In a statement sent to Insider in December, wireless industry association CTIA accused the aviation industry of “fearmongering.”

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