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Chairs DeFazio and Larsen Call for Targeted Delay of 5G Deployment

January 17, 2022

Statements from the T&I chairs follow calls from airlines for immediate intervention to prevent significant disruptions to the economy and passenger safety

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Chair of the Subcommittee on Aviation Rick Larsen (D-WA) released the following statements calling for targeted delays of 5G deployment near U.S. airport runways until the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can determine that the technology can be safely deployed.

“Once again, we find ourselves in a familiar situation: the FCC is days away from allowing telecom companies to deploy 5G technologies around the country despite the serious and legitimate safety concerns raised by airlines, pilots, manufacturers, and many others across the aviation industry,” Chair DeFazio said. “It is clear that the Trump-era directive undertaken by the FCC helped pad the pockets of the telecom industry at the expense of aviation safety. As I stated in my letter sent to the FCC earlier this month, nearly every other country that has deployed 5G has imposed some level of restrictions on its use to protect against harmful interference with aircraft. These include reducing the power levels of 5G transmissions, requiring more extensive exclusion zones at airports, ensuring 5G operates at a farther distance from the aviation frequency band or limiting the directional tilt of certain 5G broadband antennas, among other things. Unfortunately, none of these restrictions are required in the U.S. and the voluntary mitigations that are in place are only temporary. That is why I support Airlines for America for taking the prudent step today of urging the Biden administration to intervene and limit 5G deployment around approximately two miles of airport runways at the affected airports that the FAA has identified. The bottom line is simple: we must provide the FAA and aviation industry with more time to thoroughly assess the risks of deployment in order to avoid potentially disastrous disruptions to our national airspace system. We can’t roll the dice with the safety of our economy and the traveling public.”

“Congress’ job is aviation safety. It may be inconvenient to some, but it is not inconvenient to the traveling public,” Chair Larsen said. “I understand the telecommunications industry took on a massive amount of debt to invest in the 5G spectrum, but the safety of the traveling public has to come first. The FAA, the FCC, industry and relevant federal stakeholders must work to resolve serious concerns and ensure the safety of U.S. airspace.”

Background:

In January 2022, DeFazio expressed “deep reservations” about scheduled 5G deployment to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. To learn more, click here.

In December 2021, DeFazio issued a statement in support of Airlines for America’s emergency petition to stay 5G deployment. To learn more, click here.

In November 2021, DeFazio and Larsen urged FCC to act to protect aviation safety amid 5G broadband implementation. To learn more, click here.

In December 2020, DeFazio called on the Trump FCC to delay its auction of the C-Band for 5G technologies due to aviation safety concern. To learn more, click here.

In November 2019, DeFazio wrote to then-FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to express serious concerns over the FCC’s plans to sell off spectrum to commercial interests at expense of transportation safety. To learn more, click here.

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