India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has said it intends come up with a decision on whether to lift a ban on 5G around airports – but not until it has carried out a detailed study.
A Financial Express report quotes a ministry representative as saying that DoT is taking into consideration all views but that the ruling came after the civil aviation ministry flagged certain concerns with regards to operations of aircraft. “Since it’s a matter of public safety, DoT will conduct a detailed study before taking a decision further,” said the official.
Late last year DoT instructed operators to disable 5G base stations in the mid-band (3.3GHz-3.6GHz) within two kilometres from both ends of the runway and almost a kilometre from the centre line of the runway.
Not too surprisingly the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), wrote to DoT last month to suggest allowing 5G base stations to be turned back on.
It points out that aircraft altimeter systems run on C-band airwaves from 4.2Ghz and above, and not the 3.30-3.67GHz spectrum that is being used for 5G services in India, so interference should not be an issue.
Confusingly the civil aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, has said that it didn’t want the 5G base stations shut off, and that there was no mention of any specific service area around airports in a communication it had sent to the telecom ministry. It explained: "We have not forbidden 5G near airport but have asked them to operate only at lower power.”
The decision nevertheless awaits the DoT study, though it is not clear when that will be completed.