Telecom and Postal Sector – Spectrum Allocation, Call Drops, Predatory Pricing, etc

Why 5G roll-outs are disrupting flights to the US?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: Hurdles in 5G Rollout

Air India said Boeing had cleared its B777 aircraft for flights to the US following concerns that the 5G roll-out there could interfere with critical aircraft functions.

What is 5G Technology?

  • 5G or fifth generation is the latest upgrade in the long-term evolution (LTE) mobile broadband networks.
  • It’s a unified platform which is much more capable than previous mobile services with more capacity, lower latency, faster data delivery rate and better utilization of spectrum.

How can 5G affect flight safety?

  • Airlines take off and land using auto-pilot systems, which use data from radar altimeters to determine the altitude of the aircraft.
  • Altimeters emit radio waves at 4.2-4.3 Gigahertz (GHz) frequency, which could interfere with a 5G band called C-Band, which lies between 3.7-4.4 GHz.
  • This interference can mess up the data. That’s the safety concern. Radio altimeters are used at airports and other low-altitude locations.
  • A different kind of altimeter, called pressure altimeter, is used for high altitude areas.
  • Not using auto-pilot would lead to more fuel consumption and higher costs for airlines.

What happens to Air India’s operations?

  • While scheduled international flights, to and from India, remain suspended due to the pandemic, Air India operates flights to the US under an air bubble agreement.
  • These routes are served by the airline’s wide-body fleet of Boeing 777 and Boeing 787 planes.
  • The roll out of 5G is expected to primarily impact the operations of Boeing 777 and 747.

Can this impact India’s 5G roll-out?

  • India’s 5G auctions are expected to include spectrum bands of 3.3GHz -3.6GHz, which means the C-Band may not be operational, at least in the near future.
  • Plus, aircraft equipment is manufactured globally, with certain standards.
  • The FAA tests will likely lead to standards for altimeters and applied internationally.
  • For aircraft makers, altimeters are key equipment. But they’re bought off-the-rack instead being designed in-house.
  • Once a standard is known, it can be implemented in all aircraft.

Also read

[Burning Issue] 5G Technology

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