So far, AT&T and Verizon have been the main targets of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) efforts to curtail C-band transmissions near airports. But Bloomberg this week reported that Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen is seeking mandates that would apply to 19 other smaller telecom companies and spectrum holders.
Nolen’s letter seeks near-term conversations at senior levels between the National Telecommunications Industry Association (NTIA), the FAA and the FCC, according to the report.
The NTIA did not respond to a request for comment.
Verizon and AT&T bought the largest number of licenses in the C-band auction and they agreed to modifications to C-band equipment near airports. T-Mobile and United States Cellular also won licenses, as well as C Spire and Carolina West Wireless, all of which are members of the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA).
“We are aware of the FAA’s efforts, and CCA and our carrier members are working to make sure that the spectrum they secured at auction will be put to use,” said CCA President and CEO Steve Berry in a statement provided to Fierce.
According to Bloomberg, Nolen’s letter was addressed to the NTIA with a copy sent to the FCC.
FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel confirmed her agency received the letter. “We are in discussions with our colleagues at NTIA,” she said when asked about the issue during a press conference at FCC headquarters on Thursday.
Commissioner Brendan Carr also said he’s aware of the letter and he had more to say about the broader issue when asked during a separate press conference Thursday.
“A year ago, a lot of aviation stakeholders pushed hard on this message that, in their words, we were about to see a catastrophic crisis,” he said. “They talked about thousands of flights needing to be delayed, otherwise there was going to be significant harm to these major commercial airliners.”
What’s happened over the course of the last year and additional analysis shows that claim by the aviation industry “has not withstood scrutiny,” he said.
In terms of whatever issues the aviation industry perceives to be remaining, he’s happy to talk with them and keep an open mind, but “I do think we’ve got to get back to some semblance of regular order, both here and on spectrum issues more generally,” he said, noting there’s apparently another study that may or may not be attached to this letter – coming years after the FCC decided it was safe to proceed with C-band for 5G.
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