Airlines, cellphone carriers scuffle over looming 5G rollout

Big cellphone carriers have agreed to delay the launch of 5G service around airports, but they're not happy about it and they're signaling this will be the last delay.

This is just the latest in the 5G fight involving AT&T, Verizon, major airlines and the federal government.

AT&T issued this sharply worded statement ripping the airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration, "they have not utilized the two years they've had to responsibly plan for this deployment.  We are frustrated by the FAA's inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5G technology."

Tuesday night, Air India and Emirates canceled some flights into the US over the 5G concerns, a decision that could leave some Americans stranded overseas.

Delta also warned passengers about possible flight cancellations Wednesday.


Chicago’s airports were already part of a 2-mile buffer zone where 5G towers would not be switched on.

Late Tuesday, the big wireless companies agreed to hold off on activating 5G near many other airports across the country.

Verizon echoed AT&T's statement wondering why 5G is working safely in other countries, but airlines can't seem to figure it out here.

Aviation experts such as Bill Hensley said the strength of the signal could interfere with vital safety equipment in the cockpit.

"What the concern is, is regarding the radar altimeter. The radar altimeter is just simply an instrument that sends radio signals down from the airplane down to the ground, they bounce back, and it tells the computer systems and the pilots how high the airplane is above the ground," Hensley said.

Tech experts say there's a very low probability of interference, but the consequences could be devastating.

The White House said this deal between the two sides will allow more than 90 percent of wireless tower deployment to go forward as scheduled, but also protects flight safety.