AT&T, Verizon pause 5G expansion plans for 2 weeks

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AT&T and Verizon have reversed course over their 5G rollouts, deciding late on Monday to abide by a request by the FAA to stall their major network upgrades for two weeks.

The carriers initially rejected the request from the Federal Aviation Administration and government officials to stall the introduction of C-Band spectrum to their networks for two weeks, with a few airport-related exceptions. However, late on Monday, the two carriers changed their minds, agreeing to hold off on the deployment temporarily instead of pressing forward.

"At Secretary [of Transport Pete]Buttigieg's request, we have voluntarily agreed to one additional two-week delay of our deployment of C-Band 5G services," a statement from AT&T received by CNN reads.

"We also remain committed to the six-month protection zone mitigations we outlined in our letter," the statement continues, referring to an exception where spectrum deployment wouldn't immediately occur around airports. "We know aviation safety and 5G can co-exist and we are confident further collaboration and technical assessment will allay any issues."

Verizon's statement reiterated the two-week delay, and that it "promises the certainty of bringing this nation our game-changing 5G network in January delivered over America's best and most reliable network."

The FAA was concerned that the C-Band spectrum could interfere with automated cockpit systems, a worry countered by the carriers by pointing out it is being used in countries like France with no reported problems. French carriers also operate exclusion zones around airports.

While negotiations were taking place between officials and the carriers, preparations were underway by aviation industry members to sue the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to halt the deployment. An industry official told the report the lawsuit would be delayed by two weeks to match the agreed pause by carriers.