ERIE (Erie News Now) – Verizon and AT&T now say they will temporarily limit 5G service around some airports. The decision comes after CEO’s of several airlines sent a joint letter to transportation and economy officials Monday warning of “catastrophic” disruption from this week’s anticipated rollout in cities across the nation.
Verizon is still set for a 5G launch on Wednesday, with a promise of providing “transformative speed” for more than 90 million customers in the U.S., but according to a report from NBC news Verizon acknowledged that some crucial “operational” issues have yet to be resolved.
In essence the airlines are saying the new 5G service will impact altimeter readings on some aircraft when they land in low visibility conditions.
While AT&T and Verizon say their newest equipment launching in Erie and other cities will not interfere with aircraft electronics and is safely used in other countries.
We wanted to know what it means for flights in and out of Erie International Airport.
We found crews there Tuesday hard at work plowing runways, clearing away Monday’s big snowfall so that aircraft can safely land and take off from Erie.
We reached out to Derek Martin, Executive Director of Erie International Airport to see if people who fly in and out of Erie should be concerned?
He said the real concern is for planes flying in zero visibility, that use a category 3 landing system — that requires technology on the aircraft and on the ground.
Martin said planes using that type of system don’t fly here, and the FAA has not made the investment on the ground either, so the concerns expressed by airlines won’t have a direct impact here.
Matt Wiertel, Director of Business Development at Velocity Network or VNET, believes the tension between demands and advancements in the tech world and aviation can be resolved in a way that assures everyone’s safety. “You know hopefully both sides can come to a final solution that not only makes us safe, which is what I think the airlines are saying — they want to be safe. But also the telecom industry says hey we need to move forward with this spectrum and the FCC says it’s good, so hopefully at the end of the day they can come to an agreement that makes us feel safe and gives us the new technology that we’re all looking forward to,” Wiertel said.
But since Erie connects with other airports where the interference concerns may be real, Chicago, D.C., and Charlotte, Wiertel said those who fly should keep their eye on things. “You know we all fly through other cities to get to our final destinations out of Erie so making sure that those areas are not affected is probably what really concerns most of us.”