There are a lot of discussions going on regarding the use of the C-band spectrum for 5G services and the threat that it poses to sensitive aircraft equipment such as altimeters. Not just in India, but other major countries such as the United States (U.S.) is also trying to resolve the issues related to 5G and the aviation industry.
But according to the ITU APT Foundation of India, there’s no threat to the altimeters if Indian telcos start deploying 5G services using the C-band spectrum (3.3 GHz to 3.6 GHz band). This is because there’s enough spectrum guard of 500 MHz maintained between the spectrum used for 5G service and the spectrum used by the altimeter.
According to a PTI report, the altimeters inside the aircraft utilises spectrum in the 4.2 GHz - 4.4 GHz while the 5G services will use spectrum in the 3300 MHz - 3670 MHz bands. So there’s enough gap maintained in India.
Scenario With U.S. Is Not the Same
The issue that’s been going on in the U.S. is the same in nature, but the scenario is completely different. The U.S. government availed the telcos with spectrum above 3.7 GHz for 5G services which pose the threat of interference with the aircraft equipment.
The telcos in the U.S. have been working with the federal bodies and the aviation groups to ensure that a proper rollout of 5G can be ensured. Verizon and AT&T, two of the biggest private telecom operators in the United States, have already launched 5G services using C-band spectrum but have avoided switching on 5G towers within a 2-mile radius from the runways of select airports.
For the unaware, an altimeter is a crucial equipment for the aircraft as it helps the pilots in descending in the right manner to land when the visibility is very low due to outside conditions. With 5G interfering with the altimeters, it could result in service disruptions, flight delays and cancellations throughout the country.