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Cell phone companies agree to delay expanded 5G coverage for two weeks

5G tower
Posted at 11:43 AM, Jan 06, 2022

Expanded 5G services were supposed to roll out this week, but AT&T and Verizon have agreed to delay them for two weeks as part of a federal request.

Transportation leaders are worried the frequency used for 5G is too close to the frequency planes use to communicate, jeopardizing flight safety.

Meanwhile, phone companies argue that they've done their own analysis, which shows 5G won't affect flight safety. They add that they've spent billions of dollars to gain exclusive use of the frequency.

Researchers say the dispute likely won't stop the 5G rollout.

"I think these are all going to be resolved, so they can safely coexist in my opinion," said Cenk Gursoy, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Syracuse University.

President Joe Biden released a statement Tuesday, echoing his hope that the dispute would be resolved.

Cell phone users could see big benefits once phone companies expand their 5G network.

"On average, your speeds will go up, and this will happen when you have a 5G cell phone, and you're in an area with the 5G deployment that has service," said Neal Patwari, a professor of electrical and systems engineering at Washington University.

"And so, with the 5G now going into these different frequency bands, the other frequency bands used in previous generation of wireless networks, 4G, maybe it's going to be more available," Gursoy said.

That means even those who do not have a 5G capable phone may still see higher speeds because fewer people will be using the 4G network.

Researchers say any cost difference will depend on a particular carrier, but bandwidth is expected to keep increasing.

"People are right now working on 6G," Patwari said. "We're looking into the technologies that will help improve the bandwidth and the rate at which you can get your data, and your video on your phone. And they're going to keep working on that."

Patwari says the pandemic has only highlighted the demand for more bandwidth because more people are using video chatting technology for remote work and school.