Following the 30-day pause of the rollout of 5G in the C-band, a group of national security experts including former Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI) and several retired generals wrote to the White House, expressing deep concern about the national security implications of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) flawed assertions that aviation safety could be at risk from 5G transmissions.
They noted that the stakes are high in the race with China, a country that has deployed millions of 5G base stations and has dedicated twice as much valuable mid-spectrum to 5G versus the U.S. Notably U.S. weapons systems, cyber security, and intelligence capabilities will rely heavily on 5G technology, so there is a strategic imperative for the U.S. to win the 5G race.
The signers observe that given the wide-reaching nature of the China threat, it is troubling that U.S. 5G rollout in C-band got paused because of FAA pressure. The FAA, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and other agencies have long been aware of this rollout and have given it rigorous review, with the FCC, the expert agency for spectrum interference, concluding that 5G networks would not undermine aviation safety. Additionally, U.S. planes and pilots regularly fly to some 50 countries where 5G is deployed in the same or similar bands, and there have been no reports of interference.
In any event, on November 24, AT&T and Verizon announced extensive voluntary, precautionary mitigation measures for 6 months to assuage the FAA’s concerns in the C-band. These measures include adopting power limits and transmission restrictions around airports to levels lower than any country in the world. While the FAA itself says that there is no evidence that 5G creates interference, the 6 month measure allows the FAA and FCC additional time for study and resolution of the issue.
The signers rightly urged the White House to provide leadership on resolving the matter quickly and avoid a costly mistake with profound consequences for U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.