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On Sunday, AT&T and Verizon rejected U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s last-minute plea that their scheduled launch of the latest 5G wireless technology be delayed due to safety concerns.
“With continued COVID crises, it has never been more important that our country’s critical communications infrastructure have the spectrum needed to handle escalating traffic demands from our customers,” AT&T CEO John Stankey and Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg wrote in a joint letter.
Earlier in December, the heads of aerospace giants Boeing and Airbus warned against the upcoming plans to deploy new 5G wireless networks, arguing that the technology could endanger the reliability of vital aircraft safety systems.
Both Dave Calhoun, Chief Executive of Boeing, and Jeffrey Knittel, the CEO of Airbus Americas, urged the Biden administration to delay the rollout of 5G.
In a statement, Boeing said the aerospace industry was “focused on fully evaluating and addressing the potential for 5G interference with radio altimeters,” according to NPR.
“We are collaborating with aviation authorities, government leaders, airlines, and industry groups to ensure the continued operational safety of aircraft throughout the aviation system worldwide,” it said.
On December 31, Buttigieg wrote to Stankey and Vestberg, offering a “near-term solution for advancing the co-existence of 5G deployment in the C-Band and safe flight operations” which was rejected by the heads of the telecom giants.
“The United States has the safest aviation system in the world. We achieve this every day by actively identifying risks and eliminating them. Passengers have confidence that when they board one of the daily 45,000 commercial flights they will safely reach their destination,” Buttigieg wrote. “We are an aviation nation because flying is safe. Our safe aviation systems and thriving aviation industry are profoundly important to America’s economy and our way of life. We know you share the desire to keep aviation safe and efficient, and we urge you to seriously consider this solution as a common-sense way forward.”
The two companies’ CEOs wrote in response: “Agreeing to your proposal would not only be an unprecedented and unwarranted circumvention of the due process and checks and balances carefully crafted in the structure of our democracy, but an irresponsible abdication of the operating control required to deploy world-class and globally competitive communications networks that are every bit as essential to our country’s economic vitality, public safety and national interests as the airline industry.”
The CEOs also argued that “France provides a real-world example of an operating environment where 5G and aviation safety already co-exist.”
“If US airlines are permitted to operate flights every day in France, then the same operating conditions should allow them to do so in the United States,” they said.
According to CNET, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is reviewing the letter.
Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.