According to industry sources, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have formed a joint committee to look into ways to safely deploy 5G telecom towers across India’s 137 airports. To this end, DoT has requested the committee to allow telecom service providers (TSPs) to roll out low-powered networks across airports. The deployment of 5G networks alongside airports has become a contentious issue between the two government departments who are in a deadlock since last year.

The interdepartmental panel will submit its findings in 15 days. The DoT argued that the C-band identified for 5G technology in India is sufficiently spaced out from the 4200-4400 MHz band, used for radio altimeter, an airborne electronic device that is used by the aviation sector to measure altitude of aircrafts. Meanwhile, telecom carriers were directed to abstain from deploying networks within 0.9 kilometres on either side of the runway, and in a 2 kilometres area starting from the both ends of an airstrip. Telcos believe that the 5G frequency band (3300-3670 MHz) would not pose any threat, and it would be a revenue loss for them if they asked to blackout next generation services in a large area around the country’s airports.

The altimeters, currently in use at airports, are wideband and may pose interference. To this end, DoT had suggested to use bandpass filter as a solution that allows aircrafts to operate together with the 5G environment. In addition, the committee is also studying avionics models in multiple countries that have rolled out 5G networks.