AT&T (T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report and Verizon (VZ) - Get Verizon Communications Inc. Report reversed course on their 5G rollout, agreeing to delay it for two more weeks, to Jan. 19, at the request of the Transportation Department, reports say.
The government had asked the companies for the delay to enable regulators to address how the new telecom signals might affect airport safety.
On Sunday the two telecom giants had declined a request by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Federal Aviation Administrator Steve Dickson to delay the rollout past a planned Jan. 5 launch.
AT&T, Dallas, and Verizon, New York, had earlier agreed to delay the rollout by a month from Dec, 5.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the change comes as the FAA was preparing to restrict pilots' use of certain automated cockpit systems.
The rules would be designed to avoid potential interference from wireless towers transmitting 5G signals, government and Industry officials familiar with the plan had told the Journal.
The paper also reported that people familiar with the matter said that Airlines for America, a trade group representing air carriers, had planned to ask a federal court to block the 5G rollout.
The trade group then held off that legal action, given the new delay, the people told the paper.
"The FAA thanks AT&T and Verizon for agreeing to a voluntary delay and for their proposed mitigations," the agency said in a statement. "We look forward to using the additional time and space to reduce flight disruptions associated with this 5G deployment.
"The wireless companies have offered to implement a set of mitigations comparable to measures used in some European operating environments.
"While U.S. standards and operating environments are unique, we believe this could substantially reduce the disruptions to air operations.
"These additional mitigations will be in place for six months around 50 airports identified as those with the greatest impact to the U.S. aviation sector."