Nigerian telecoms say there is no cause for alarm regarding 5G around airports

January 20, 2022

Telecoms operators in Nigeria seek to ease fears raised by airline operators of possible disruption in aircraft operations by the rollout of the 5G network.

Several of the largest U.S. airlines express concern over what they described as “potentially catastrophic disruption” in the aviation industry if telecoms companies rolled out 5G services.

The airlines jointly sent a letter to senior officials in the Biden administration on Monday, warning that thousands of aircraft could be grounded, causing commerce to “grind to a halt” with U.S. citizens stranded overseas if 5G is switched on near airport runways.

Verizon and AT&T rollout their 5G networks on Wednesday but have agreed to not deploy 5G service within two miles of airports.

Dozens of airlines, including Emirates and Air India are canceling or rescheduling many of their flights to the U.S. because of the concerns.

But the Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators in Nigeria (ALTON), Engr Gbenga Adebayo, said concerns raised by those U.S. airlines were not new and still formed part of the conspiracy theories against 5G.

In an interview with Nigeria-based, Vanguard, he said the concerns in the U.S. were in conflict with developments in many parts of Europe where 5G is fully operational and might not also hold any effect in Nigeria.

“Even in Germany, there has not been any report that the deployment of 5G has any effect on signals in their airports,” said Adebayo. “For us as operators in Nigeria, we are not expecting any issues because before we were granted licenses, the Nigerian Communications Commission, carried out several studies and must have had a series of collaborations with regulator counterparts in the airline operation before concluding plans on 5G license auctioning.”

The concern lies in 5G signals’ potential to interfere with a plane’s navigation and radar systems.

5G cell towers operate between 3.7-3.9 GHz. Radar altimeters operate at a frequency of 4.2-4.4 GHz.

That closeness on the frequency band could lead them to interfere with each other, especially if the tower is near an airport, right when a plane is trying to land. Altimeters play an especially crucial role when there’s low visibility.

AT&T said it would continue to work with the aviation industry and the FAA to provide further information about its 5G deployment.

Verizon’s stance is similar to ALTON Chairman Adebayo. In a statement, the company expressed concerns that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. airlines “have not been able to fully resolve navigating 5G around airports, despite it being safe and fully operational in more than 40 other countries.”


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