The Department of Telecommunications has initiated talks with the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Directorate General of Civil Aviation on the interference of 5G C bands with aircraft radio altimeters. Senior officials at the DoT told businessline, “The DoT has sent the aviation regulators the operational guidelines which telecom operators could adhere to in order to avoid interference. We are yet to hear back from the MCA and DGCA.”

Interference of 5G base stations with aircraft altimeters is a major area of concern for telecom operators, as this could prevent them from offering 5G services in key locations such as Lutyens’ Delhi, Safdarjung and other areas near airports. Telecom operators are targeting high ARPU users for 5G, and the skirmish with aviation regulators could be very detrimental for the operators’ business. 

In December 2022, the DoT asked telecom operators to stop installing 5G base stations in the 3.3-3.6 GHz band, almost a kilometer from the center line of runways. DoT decisions were based on the recommendations provided by the Aviation Ministry. 

Telecom operators have temporarily shut down 5G services in the 3.3-3.6 GHz band, awaiting DGCA guidelines on the matter. The operators’ industry association, Cellular Operators Association of India has also written to the DoT on the matter, communicating the grave consequences on the operators’ business if DoT’s suspension continues. 

A top executive working for the telcos said: “The DoT initiating talks with the aviation regulators is a positive move, hopefully, this matter will resolve soon.”