5G rollout near US airports delayed after flights cancelled due to safety concerns

US telecommunications companies AT&T and Verizon have announced they will limit the rollout of 5G technology near airports after concerns were raised about potential interference with aircraft systems.

The news comes less than 24 hours after Emirates announced it was canceling the majority of its flights to the US due to concerns about 5G wireless interference.

The airline canceled its flights from Dubai to Boston, Chicago, Dallas Fort Worth, Houston,  Miami, Newark, Orlando, San Francisco and Seattle.

"At our sole discretion we have voluntarily agreed to temporarily defer turning on a limited number of towers around certain airport runways as we continue to work with the aviation industry and the FAA to provide further information about our 5G deployment, since they have not utilized the two years they've had to responsibly plan for this deployment," an AT&T spokesperson said.

Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) joined major US airlines warning that 5G wireless services could disrupt thousands of daily flights and cost air passengers US$1.6 billion in delays every year.

Communications companies responded by accusing airlines of "fearmongering".

The CTIA, an association representing the communications industry, went even further.

"Their information is completely discredited information and (is a) deliberate distortion of fact," a CTIA spokesperson said.

In New Zealand, MBIE said it's working with experts to keep up to date with the latest technologies and any risk they may bring with them.

"New Zealand has robust regulatory systems in place for aviation safety and 

radiocommunications licensing to manage any interference issues that might arise and require technical mitigations should they be necessary. There are no reports to date of any actual issues with altimeters," the ministry told Newshub.

"MBIE is working with the CAA and our international counterparts to understand the latest research in this area and ensure the safe operation of aircraft in New Zealand."

Emirates said it was working closely with aircraft manufacturers and the relevant authorities to alleviate operational concerns and hoped to resume US services as soon as possible.