The rollout of 5G internet service in the United States has left many US-bound air travellers stranded at the various airports in Nigeria and around the world as many airlines were forced to cancel flights over safety reasons.
The 5G rollout, The New Diplomat gathered, triggered a feud earlier in the week between the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and many telecommunications companies in the US, including giants: AT&T and Verizon.
AT&T and Verizon had on Wednesday kickstarted processes to make 5G service available in some parts of US. The telecoms companies began rolling out 5G in eight metro areas: Austin, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Dallas Fort Worth, Texas; Detroit, Michigan; Houston, Texas; Jacksonville, Florida; Orlando, Florida; and South Florida.
However, the FAA shortly after the commencement of the rollout raised concerns about the possible interference of the 5G cell signals in the operations of aviation.
Many experts in the Aviation industry, had raised questions on whether the cell signals of the 5G service could interfere with the altimeters that pilots use to land in conditions with low visibility.
There have been concerns that the installation of the 5G cellular antennas near some airports could result in some operational challenges as it could throw off readings from some aircraft equipment including altimeter designed to tell pilots how far they are from the ground.
Also, checks by The New Diplomat show that the aviation industry was worried that US 5G service (in a spectrum of radio waves with frequencies between 3.7 and 3.98 GHz) is too close to the spectrum used by radar altimeters on board planes, which is between 4.2 and 4.4 GHz.
“If there is no proper mitigation, this risk has the potential for broad impacts to aviation operations in the United States as well as in other regions where the 5G network is being implemented next to the 4.2 to 4.4 GHz frequency band,” IATA and IFALPA had said in a statement.
Though mobile carriers have agreed to delay activating 5G towers near airport runways, data obtained from flightaware reveals that a total of 548 flights have been cancelled into, within and out of US since the start of the week.
This is as Emirates, Lufthansa, British Airways and Air India, have all announced flight cancellation into US.
Emirates in a statement announced that it would suspend flights into nine U.S. airports – Boston, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas Fort Worth, George Bush Intercontinental in Houston, Miami, Newark, Orlando, San Francisco and Seattle.
“We are working closely with aircraft manufacturers and the relevant authorities to alleviate operational concerns, and we hope to resume our US services as soon as possible,” Emirates said in a statement.
Similarly, Air India who took to its Twitter handle on Wednesday had said, “Due to deployment of 5G communications in the USA, our operations to the USA from India stand curtailed/revised with change in aircraft type from 19th January 2022.”
This has left many stranded throughout the week in various parts of the world including at the Nigeria’s busiest International Airports: The Murtala Mohammed Int’l Airport, Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe Int’l Airport in Capital Abuja, as air carriers transiting to US are citing safety concerns over the 5G rollout.