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Biden Touts Deal Delaying 5G Rollout by AT&T, Verizon

FILE - A Verizon contract crew installs 5G telecommunications equipment on a tower in Orem, Utah, Dec. 3, 2019.
FILE - A Verizon contract crew installs 5G telecommunications equipment on a tower in Orem, Utah, Dec. 3, 2019.

President Joe Biden touted an agreement Tuesday between wireless carriers and U.S. regulators to allow the deployment of 5G wireless technology in two weeks.

AT&T and Verizon said Monday they would delay activating the new service for two weeks following a request by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. He cited airline industry concerns that the technology’s rollout could interfere with sensitive electronic systems on aircraft and disrupt thousands of daily flights.

The telecommunications giants’ announcement came one day after they maintained they would not postpone the introduction of the service. But they agreed to the delay amid pressure from the White House and aviation unions, and concerns expressed by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

Biden said in a statement Tuesday the "agreement ensures that there will be no disruptions to air operations over the next two weeks and puts us on track to substantially reduce disruptions to air operations when AT&T and Verizon launch 5G on January 19th."

In an email Tuesday to employees, Verizon Chief Executive Hans Vestberg said the company saw no aviation safety issue with 5G, but added the FAA "intended to disrupt an already difficult time for air travel if we move ahead with our planned activation... We felt that it was the right thing to do for the flying public, which includes our customers and all of us, to give the FAA a little time to work out its issues with the aviation community."

Buttigieg and FAA Administrator chief Steve Dickson said in a letter sent Monday to AT&T and Verizon that the agencies would not seek any further delays beyond January 19 if there are not any "unforeseen aviation safety issues," according to Reuters.

The letter also reportedly said the agreement "will give us additional time and space to reduce the impacts to commercial flights."

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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