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NEW YORK — You can add advanced broadband reception on cellphones and other devices to the lengthening list of factors causing airline delays and cancellations.  

That’s what airline trade groups are saying, as they dispute with the country’s largest cellphone providers over the potential hazards that 5G broadband use anywhere close to airports can have.  

It’s of particular concern, according to the airline industry, in locations with the highest numbers of flights. The New York City region, with its three international airports, has the highest number of flights in the country.

The trade and labor groups Airlines for America, the Air Lines Pilot Association and the Association of Flight Attendants all criticized decisions by Verizon and AT&T to continue with a Jan. 5 target date to begin activating 5G networks in places that include areas near airports.  

The Jan. 5 date was the result of an agreement between the airline industry organizations and the cellphone service providers.  Last month, they agreed to hold off on the 5G launch for one month, beginning Dec. 5.  

Still, after that hiatus for the $80 billion effort, federal regulators warn that problems may persist. Specifically, Pete Buttiegieg, the secretary of transportation, and Steve Dickson, the FAA administrator, sent a letter to the two communications companies’ CEOs, saying that it’s still possible that the 5G expansion “…will result in widespread and unacceptable disruption as airplanes divert to other cities or flights are canceled…”   

It’s because airplanes use sensitive radar devices called altimeters to know how far above the ground they are. The devices use a similar spectrum of broadband — or communications transmission — as 5G phone reception, according to airline industry leaders, and federal regulators, many of whom are concerned about transmission interference causing takeoff and landing problems.  

For their part, AT&T and Verizon point out that the 5G network has been installed in cities in France that are similar to New York, where there’s significant air traffic.  

“The laws of physics are the same in the United States and France…” wrote the CEOs of Verizon and AT&T in a letter to federal regulators.  “If U.S. airlines are permitted to operate flights every day in France, then the same operating conditions should allow them to do so in the United States.”

Peter Shankman is a communications expert, author, futurist, and advisory board member at NASA.  He has attachments to both the aerospace side and the broadband side of the 5G issue. Shankman said that the CEOs’ letter, signed by both John Stankey of AT&T and Hans Vestberg of Verizon, and apparently written by Vestberg, made sense.

“As rude as he was in saying that, he has a point,” Shankman said about the use of 5G in France.  “It’s the same technology.”

Shankman expressed confidence that some sort of middle ground can be reached, but also said that forward momentum is important, since the 5G that most Americans have now on their phones may not be as fast and thorough as they think.

“It’s a form of 5G,” said Shankman.  “Having used 5G in Asia, I can tell you the speeds we’re getting here are not pure 5G.  They’re a good start, but we’ve got some time.”