SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — AT&T and Verizon announced the delay of their new, faster 5G network on towers near some airports across the country. There are nine 5G cell towers across the state, including in Sacramento.
So how could this impact Sacramento International Airport, and why isn’t this technology a problem elsewhere?READ MORE: 'Test to Treat' Available in San Joaquin County, In Time For Holiday Weekend
We took our questions to the Sacramento County Department of Airports but were only given a statement. So we reached out to the Airports Council International – North America and were told there’s still a lot that airports don’t know and are bracing for a busy Wednesday.
“We are still trying to get information from the FAA regarding additional mitigation strategies that will be deployed at individual airports,” said Chris Oswald, vice president of safety and regulatory affairs with the council.
It’s a push for guidance as AT&T and Verizon announced they’ll activate some of their new ultra fast 5G wireless networks as planned on Wendesday, but cell towers within a 2-mile radius of some of the nation’s busiest airports will stay off-line.
“Almost 90 commercial service airports will lose their low visibility approach capability, the type of approach a pilot would use in the event of rain or fog, on January 19,” Oswald said.
So, how will SMF be impacted? That’s unclear. The Sacramento County Department of Airports would only give us a statement saying it’s team:
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“… has continued to monitor the government and wireless carriers’ work on understanding the impact of 5g. as this work continues, safety remains a top priority for the airport.”
“Had we just done a little better coordination ahead of time, we wouldn’t have to have it come down like this,” commercial pilot Juan Browne said.
Browne has been flying for 23 years. His biggest concern is how the technology could hinder radio altimeters, which measure how far above the ground a plane is traveling.
It’s critical, he says, in bad weather conditions.
“The radio altimeter automatically calls out for us 50, 40, 30 20 feet,” he said.
Verizon and AT&T have argued 5G has been used in dozens of other countries without any problems. So why is it an issue here? According to Reuters, it comes down to different frequency standards — they’re different in countries across Europe and in South Korea.
While the Federal Aviation Administration braces for disruptions, analysts have this advice: “if you don’t have to travel on Wednesday, don’t.”MORE NEWS: Highway 12 Fully Reopens Near Rio Vista After Major Crash
Some airlines are already suspending flights — Emirates, ANA, Japan Airlines and Air India have all canceled flights to several US cities until this situation is worked out.