Part of US 5G rollout delayed over aviation fears; UK to toughen law on mobile use while driving

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has asked mobile carriers to delay part of their US 5G rollout plans over fears that new frequencies could interfere with altimeters on aircraft – despite no supporting evidence …

FAA delays part of US 5G rollout

ArsTechnica reports.

AT&T and Verizon reluctantly agreed to delay the launch of 5G on newly acquired C-band spectrum licenses for one month, until January 5, in response to the Federal Aviation Administration’s claim that the new service could interfere with radio altimeters used in airplanes.

Mobile carriers aren’t alone in being frustrated by the delay. Telecom-industry observers point out that the Federal Communications Commission approved use of the C-Band spectrum from 3.7 to 3.98 GHz only after analyzing the aviation industry’s interference claims and finding no evidence to support the claims. The FCC also required a 220 MHz guard band that will remain unused to protect altimeters from interference. That guard band is more than twice as big as the 100 MHz buffer initially suggested by Boeing, the FCC has said.

Moreover, this spectrum is reportedly already being used for 5G in nearly 40 countries without evidence of the problems that US aviation officials are warning of. 

The FAA has not clarified the reason for its concern, nor what actions will be taken between now and January 5.

UK to toughen law on mobile use while driving

The UK’s law on mobile use while driving has fallen behind the times, only explicitly banning phone calls and texts – though courts have generally treated any phone usage as illegal.

Engadget reports that the law is to be clarified to ban any phone use behind the wheel.

It’s already illegal to text and make calls behind the wheel unless it’s an emergency. Starting next year, though, any use of mobile phone while driving will be deemed illegal — that includes using phones to take photos or videos, to play games or to scroll through playlists and other content.

Additionally, it will be made clear that “driving” includes being temporarily stationary.

The government will revise The Highway Code to explain that being stationary on the road, such as at traffic lights or in the middle of traffic jams, still count as driving. Anybody caught using their phones in those circumstances will still be fined £200 (US$269) and will get six penalty points on their license, which means new drivers could get their licenses revoked.

While it may seem safe to use a smartphone while stationary, the problem is that drivers are no longer paying attention to their surroundings. If startled by the car behind blasting them with a horn when lights change or traffic moves off, they may panic into pulling away immediately without a proper check for pedestrians still crossing, cyclists passing them, and similar risks.

Photo: MA510/Unsplash

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