Canada bans 5G antennas around airports for potential interference with aircraft altimeters
After the Federal Aviation Administration in the US delayed Verizon and AT&T's 5G rollout plans on their newly acquired C-Band spectrum, it's now Canada's turn. The government's Department of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (ISED) has set 5G antenna exclusion zones at a set perimeter around 26 Canadian airports. Indoor 5G base stations can still be present for passengers to peruse, but outdoor antennas operating in the midband 3.45 -3.65 GHz spectrum would be prohibited.
The issue with 5G connectivity at or near airports is that the outdoor antennas may interfere with the altimeters used to establish a plane's position relative to the ground. The science on such interference is controversial, with conflicting studies leading to the FAA's decision. The ISED imposed 5G restrictions out of an abundance of caution anyway, going into the technicalities of the decision:
If all base stations were to generate spurious emissions of -30 dBm/MHz with a 0 dBi base station antenna gain, ISED agrees that in-band interference concerns in radio altimeters would be significantly minimized or potentially eliminated. ISED could consider a more stringent spurious emission limit for the 4200-4400 MHz range in a future revision of RSS-192. Until then, in-band interference from base station spurious emissions cannot be ruled out.
ISED remains of the view that, in the context of Canadian technical and spectrum policies for the 3500 MHz band, publicly available studies, including the results of ISED's calculation, demonstrate a potential for harmful interference to radio altimeters from 5G operation and, therefore, a risk to the lives and safety of Canadians. Since ISED cannot rule out the use of worst performing altimeters described by the aviation industry in the RTCA report in Canadian territory at this time, the mitigation measures described in section 4 of this document are warranted on an interim basis, while international and domestic studies continue.
The Canadian carriers are pushing for a sunset period that will lift the restrictions by October 2022, but ISED is firm that no official date can be set for now. Pending any future tests or retrofitting airport infrastructure and altimeters, the 5G connectivity around 26 main airports will be limited for the safety of Canadian citizens, says ISED.
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