The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had ordered the telcos to pause the 5G networks near airports which were operating in the C-band spectrum. The reason was that there was a risk of the 5G networks interfering with the aircraft altimeter systems. The telecom department will reportedly conduct a detailed study into this and then might lift the ban on 5G around airports. The instruction sent to the telecom operators from DoT in November 2022 said that the telcos must disable the 5G networks in the mid-band (3.3 GHz to 3.67 GHz) within 2 kilometres from both ends of the runway and almost a kilometre from the centre line of the runway.
According to a recent Financial Express report, the telecom department is going to conduct a detailed study before taking a decision further on the matter. The COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India) had told DoT that the altimeters inside the aircraft operate on the 4.2 GHz spectrum and above, while the mid-band 5G in India is rolled out in the 3.30 GHz to 3.67 GHz band. Thus, there’s enough gap between the spectrum bands that there would be no interference at all.
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The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said that it hadn’t asked for the 5G base stations to shut off. The civil aviation regulator had only asked the telcos to operate 5G at a lower power, limited to 58 dBm of the same band. For the unaware, the same issue has been there in the United States (US) as well.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ask the telcos not to roll out 5G in C-band near the airports. The FAA had said that C-band 5G near airports would interfere with the altimeters of the aircraft. But the key thing that’s different between the C-band 5G of India and the US is the spectrum band used.