As telcos and airline companies face off in the US over C-band 5G rollouts and potential interference issues, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has reportedly said that India’s planned rollouts of 5G in the same band won’t cause any disruption for airline operations in the country.
The regulator is currently holding consultations with industry stakeholders on price recommendations for 5G spectrum across various bands including the C-band and mmWave bands. While spectrum auctions won’t take place until at least June this year, Indian telecom operators expect to use the C-band first for initial 5G services.
Air India, ANA, Japan Airlines and Emirates, among other global airlines, have said that they are either cancelling or revising flights to the US because of the planned rollout of C-band 5G services by AT&T and Verizon.
Airlines have warned that 5G networks will lead to potential interference with sensitive navigation equipment used during landings in poor weather, since frequencies for C-band 5G services are near spectrum used by aircraft radar altimeters, which track altitude and allow landings in bad weather. Airlines have said that such a disruption could lead to “catastrophic disruptions.”
But a government official told the newspaper Mint that India won’t face the same issue as the US because the C-band spectrum TRAI has earmarked for 5G rollout – 3.3 GHz to 3.6 GHz – is well below the band used by airline altimeters that starts from 4.2 GHz, creating an adequate buffer between the two bands.
“The regulator is aware of the issue, but there is no cause for concern because of the gap between the two bands – clarification to the effect can be provided as well,” a second person was quoted as saying by the publication.
Meanwhile, AT&T and Verizon agreed earlier this week to delay switching on hundreds of 5G cell towers near US airports following last-minute discussion with the US government officials over safety concerns.
In India, the C-band 5G issue was initially flagged earlier this month by the Federation of Indian Pilots in a communication to the government. The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents Indian telecom service providers Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, replied that concerns over interference are unsubstantiated.
“We understand the concerns raised by Federation of Indian Pilots, and the matter has been highlighted in the past as well, wherein the authorities have found the issue of spectrum interference uncorroborated,” S.P. Kochhar, director general of COAI, told Mint. “There is a gap of 530 MHz (between 3,670 MHz and 4200 MHz) in the transmission of frequencies, thus, making it safe for 5G and aviation to coexist.”