Aviation News

Boeing, telcos in spat over 5G services near airports, Infra News, ET Infra

US aircraft maker Boeing and India’s telcos are in a spat over the issue of 5G around airports. Boeing has told the Centre that the current mitigation measures taken in India are not enough and demanded that there be no 5G services in 3.2 miles, or 5.1 kms, around the airports.

The operators have opposed the view, saying that in case India accepts the demand of Boeing and bars 5G in 3,300-3,670 MHz or C-band spectrum for 5 kms, it would affect most of the cities in the country as many of the airports are in the middle of the cities.

Currently, 5G is barred within 2.1 kms from airports.

But the US aircraft maker wrote to the government recently saying that the current measures do not take into account aircraft deviation from the centre line of the runway and glide slope during approach.

Apart from writing a letter in March, the aircraft maker is also believed to have highlighted the point during a meeting of the 5G committee held on April 19, officials present told ET.

The committee includes officials from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and executives from Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Boeing, and Airbus.

Officials aware of the details said that Boeing was of the view that the current mitigation measures taken in India are bare minimum which do not take into account aircraft deviation from the centre line of the runway and glide slope during approach.

“If these points are considered by India, the runway safety zone would need to be expanded to cover a larger area than what is being currently set, which is 2.1 kms,” a Boeing official is believed to have said during the meeting.

Further, the mitigation measures are only a temporary measure and to provide a permanent solution, the altimeters of the aircrafts must be changed.

Queries sent by ET to Boeing regarding the issue remained unanswered.

Industry Opposition

However, the telecom operators are opposing any move to further increase the 5G no go zone.

The operators, in turn, suggested that to provide 5G services around airports, the equipment can be configured in such a manner that the existing runway safety zone can be reduced from the current 2.1 kms.

The DoT, on its part, has asked Boeing to share calculations as to how they arrived at the figure of 3.2 miles as a safety zone.

In November last year, the DoT had directed all the mobile phone operators not to install any 5G sites in the 3,300-3,670 MHz band within 2.1 kilometres of both ends of the runway at all the airports in India, to avoid interference with aircraft radio frequencies.

Jio and Airtel have been rolling out 5G since last October, utilising the C-band.

However, despite various meetings between the stakeholders, the impasse over providing 5G around airports continues. So far, no timelines have been specified around restoration of 5G and when the altimeters in aeroplanes can be changed, which, telcos say, puts them in a tricky situation as they can’t offer 5G in areas where they are witnessing massive demand.

The issue first arose when, in January 2022, the US Federal Aviation Administration warned that 5G signals in the C-spectrum band – with band range from 3.3-4.2 GHz – could interfere with aircraft altimeter systems, which typically operate in the nearby 4.2-4.4 GHz range.

  • Published On May 21, 2023 at 09:29 AM IST

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