The Department of Innovation Science and Economic Development is proposing banning 5G cellular service at the country’s major airports and the surrounding neighbourhoods. ISED says the radio signals used by the next iteration of wireless service could potentially disrupt the operation of radio altimeters on transport category aircraft with autoland capability. The 5G signals occupy a slice of radio spectrum (3,500 MHz) that are close to the 4200-4400 MHz used by radio altimeters and there has been concern voiced that interference could occur.
The decision was a surprise for telecoms who have been rolling out 5G over the last year. Airports and their environs, which usually include a lot of businesses and industry are important for their customers and not being able to offer 5G is a blow. Telus said in its comments on the proposal the frequency conflict wasn’t mentioned when the major telecoms spent $9 billion on the thin slice of the finite range of radio frequencies that serve everything from commercial broadcasting to walkie talkies. “Telus was very surprised when it learned, only one week after making a multibillion-dollar commitment, that the proposed technical changes would impair a significant amount of the spectrum it won at auction,” the company said in a Sept. 2 comment filed with ISED.