5G in C-Band a Concern for Indian Aviation Regulatory Body

What's worth noting here is that in India, the C-band 5G would be rolled out in the 3.3 GHz to 3.67 GHz frequency range. However, in the US, the operators have used the 3.7 GHz to 3.98 GHz frequencies, which are closer to the radio altimeter frequencies inside the aircraft.

Highlights

  • The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has some concerns with the rollout of 5G in India.
  • Altimeters are essential equipment which operates in the C-band as well and allows the pilots to understand the direct-height-above terrain of the aircraft.
  • The 5G rollout is somewhat expected during early October 2022.

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5G

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has some concerns with the rollout of 5G in India. The C-band 5G, which was a major topic of discussion in the United States (US) a few months back, could now be coming to India. For the unaware, the C-band spectrum is the sweet spot for the telcos globally, including India, to roll out 5G services. But it can be a concern for the aviation bodies as well. The issue is the altimeter that aircraft are equipped with. Altimeters are essential equipment which operates in the C-band as well and allows the pilots to understand the direct-height-above terrain of the aircraft. So if the altimeters get interfered with because of the C-band 5G of the telcos, it could result in accidents as well.

According to a report from The Indian Express, the DGCA is concerned about C-band 5G interfering with the altimeters inside the aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had voiced concerns about the rollout of C-band 5G in the US earlier this year. The radio instruments inside the aircraft pick up even the faintest signals reflected off the ground. Thus, this equipment could also pick up 'out-of-band' signals, which could impair the altimeters' functioning.

India's C-band 5G is Different from US C-band 5G

What's worth noting here is that in India, the C-band 5G would be rolled out in the 3.3 GHz to 3.67 GHz frequency range. However, in the US, the operators have used the 3.7 GHz to 3.98 GHz frequencies, which are closer to the radio altimeter frequencies inside the aircraft. Thus, it is possible that in India, the C-band 5G frequencies might not affect the altimeter readings at all because of a safe distance between the operating frequencies.

The 5G rollout is somewhat expected during early October 2022. Both Jio and Airtel could announce 5G network services on the same day for customers in metro cities. DGCA's concerns could potentially push the launch of 5G networks in India to a further date. Hopefully, the issues around the matter will be solved fast, and India can start with its 5G journey.

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