5G Proves Technology Is A Double-Edged Sword

5G Proves Technology Is A Double-Edged Sword

Fire, if properly regulated, will cook you a delicious meal; if unregulated, it will burn down the kitchen as well as the house. The same is true of technology. It is the same predicament that America faces today. This predicament has been brought on by 5G. For years now, it has been touted as the next big thing.

It would change our internet experience and is the future of technology. Countries have poured billions of dollars in upgrading their telecommunication infrastructure to roll out 5G services for their citizenry. Big businesses have made a killing out of this.

The same 5G that was supposed to transport us to the future has unfortunately grounded thousands of people. Anybody who was flying to the USA would vouch for this. Hundreds of flights to the USA have been cancelled from all over the world.

The last few days have been absolutely chaotic. Pilots do not want to fly to America. They say the 5G rollout in the USA will interfere with their planes and make landing dangerous. The matter has reached the White House. Some compromises have been struck. Questions have been raised.

Is 5G dangerous? Did nobody think it could lead to such disruptions? Why did no one think of this before? How are other countries that have already rolled out 5G operating without any glitches? Is this problem unique to the US?

This is nothing short of an international botch up. Hundreds of flights have been grounded, not because of Coronavirus but because of 5G technology. The 5G revolution was supposed to have catapulted us to a techno-centric future where everything would happen in the wink of an eye.

The unfortunate reality is that we have been left stranded on the ground. Worldwide, airline pilots are afraid to fly to the USA including pilots of India’s oldest carrier Air India. It had suspended several flights to the USA because pilots fear 5G waves could bring planes down. This is no exaggeration.

The risk is real. The chaos over the last several days led to serious questions. Countries have poured billions into this technology. Do they have to roll back now or upgrade?


This week America’s phone networks are getting a major 5G upgrade. Verizon and AT&T are switching to newer and faster 5G technology. Faster internet and more network capacity is the promise they have made to their customers. But this upgrade has spooked pilots.

First, the pilots of American carriers protested against the rollout. The CEOs of American airlines, Delta Airlines and Southwest Airlines wrote a joint letter threatening to ground their fleet.

This was followed by international carriers who cancelled their flights. UAE’s Emirates, Nipon Airlines of Japan, Lufthansa of Germany and British Airways have all modified their flight schedule or cancelled their flights altogether.

At least 250 flights to the US have been cancelled in the past couple of days. These airlines will not fly to major American cities like Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and New York.

However, some airlines like Air India have resumed flights. It is not just commercial planes that have rescheduled their flight plan, but cargo planes have also been affected by this. Delivery giants like FedEx and UPS are afraid to fly.

All the airline companies and their pilots are afraid to fly in to America because of a device called radio altimeter. All planes have this device. It tells the pilot how far the plane is from the ground. Pilots use them during poor visibility.

A radio altimeter basically helps them land the plane. In that sense, it is indispensable. America’s new and faster 5G device interferes with its functioning thus misleading the pilot on the real distance between the plane and the ground, which might ultimately result in an accident.

5G frequency interferes with the frequency of the altimeter confusing the device, and the pilots could be blinded by this interference. They will not be able to tell how far the plane is from the ground.

A solution is being discussed. A compromise has been reached. The solution is a buffer zone around airports. Pilots and airlines want no 5G around airports, at least not within a 3 km radius of the airport runways.

The problem has become too big to ignore for the White House. 5G threatens to shut down a major part of the US economy. Verizon and AT&T have delayed the launch of 5G around key airports. If the problem is not resolved quickly, thousands of people could be affected.

If 5G continues to interfere with planes, then as many as 350,000 flights would be delayed every year. Around 1100 flights could be cancelled or delayed affecting almost 100,000 passengers daily. The economic cost would be to the tune of $1.5 billion every year. This has to be borne by the passenger.

The question is who is to be blamed for this mess. A bitter blame game is on between American civil aviation authorities and telecom companies. The regulators say the new 5G technology has not been tested. 5G in the US is said to be two and a half times more powerful than anywhere else in the world.

Pilots and airlines say more tests are needed to ensure this kind of 5G can co-exist with the planes. The telecom companies on their part blame the FAA citing that 40 countries around the world have deployed 5G technology without disrupting airline services. 5G is available commercially in 60 countries and almost 1300 cities have this technology. But except for the US, planes seem to be landing safely everywhere else.

It can be safely concluded that the sole superpower of the world botched up its 5G rollout. There is a lesson here for the rest of the world. 5G is coming. It is only a matter of time. By 2030, the 5G ecosystem would be worth $8 trillion world over.

No country would want to miss out on this opportunity. If the countries want to exploit the 5G technology they must ensure a smooth rollout. Otherwise, they are bound to lose money rather than making money out of it. As they say, a stitch in time saves nine.

edited and proofread by nikita sharma

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