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Indiana state senator calls for more information from federal government regarding 5G rollout around airports

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Democratic state Sen. J.D. Ford is asking the federal government for more information before turning on the new and faster 5G cell service.

There is an going to be a two-mile buffer around Indianapolis International Airport, so nearby 5G towers will not be turned on anytime soon. 

Ford’s district covers most of Indy’s west side. He is concerned there is not enough information about how the 5G signal is going to affect the instruments of commercial aircraft and has asked the federal government for an explanation.  

“I wanted to get more information about that because if that is true, then we need to have a conversation about that in our state, and it turns out we are on to something” Ford said. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has warned that 5G wireless interference could impact sensitive aircraft components, like the radar altimeters, which provide altitude readings. They have also issued rules where they fear the signals could interfere with radar.

The rules vary from airport to airport. It is not clear if those rules have been applied to the Indianapolis airport. 

However, Airlines for American, an airline advocacy group says the issue will take some time to sort out.  

“[The situation involves] highly complex technical issues here that need to be worked out almost on a tower-by-tower basis, so we’re at a good place right now,” Nick Calio of Airlines for America said. “The problem is not solved, and we’ve got a lot of work to do, and everybody needs to keep doing this work with a real sense of urgency to get it done so that planes can keep flying and we can deploy 5G at the same time.”   

The nation’s largest wireless providers — Verizon and AT&T — agreed this week to temporarily halt the rollout of 5G towers around airports. The agreement includes a two-mile buffer around the nations 50-largest airports, including Indianapolis’, but it doesn’t include smaller regional airports.  

“I think that it really is a flare in the air, if you will, to let folks know that there could be something more to this issue. I think this is something that we need to take seriously” Ford said. 

A few international carriers have delayed trips into the United States, but so far, no flights coming or going here Indianapolis have been impacted, airport management tells I-Team 8.   

Indianapolis International Airport will work with the FAA to address any concerns that may arise in the future. 

The agreed delay is for two weeks. Both sides hope to have more clarity on the issue in the coming days.