Private 5G and Airports – Just the Facts

Empty airport gate interior looking out onto runway with planes

You’ve undoubtedly read about the controversy between the FAA and the FCC around the launch of public 5G services over C-Band.  The issue has the potential of impacting the entirely separate and unrelated topic of deploying private 5G networks at airports. Let’s get some clarity.

Betacom is engaged in several private 5G deployments at airports, so for us this is fact-based.  There are several clear reasons why private 5G deployments at airports are secure and cause zero impact on airplane or passenger safety.

  1. Private 5G in the U.S. runs over CBRS, the 3.5 GHz spectrum band. The concern the FAA has expressed about 5G is related to its newly launched operation in the C-band (3.7-3.98 GHz) which is close to the band used by aircraft radio altimeters (4.2-4.4 GHz). I am not going to weigh in on the protections in place to remove interference between C-band and altimeters.  I simply want to point out that CBRS is far removed from the 4.2 GHz band and will not cause interference.
  2. Private 5G networks run locally over low power small cells.  These are not high-power signals broadcast over 5G macrocell towers.  Private 5G networks are designed to provide discreet coverage in well-defined areas.
  3. Private 5G networks are deployed at the airport, where the planes are on the ground and altimeters measuring the vertical distance to the ground are not in use.
  4. Betacom fully manages the private 5G networks we deploy.  Access to the spectrum is managed.  Security is managed.  Operations are managed and monitored 24×7.

Bottom line: this is a spectrum issue, not a 5G issue. Airports today have an immediate need to increase operational efficiency through the connectivity that private 5G enables. We’re excited to work with airports and airlines to deploy private 5G networks to help the aviation industry, and the country, continue our economic recovery and progress.

Johan Bjorklund
CEO, Betacom