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Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

AT&T and Verizon late Monday said they would briefly delay a planned deployment of 5G services, reversing course in an ongoing fight with the aviation industry.

Why it matters: The Federal Aviation Administration has warned that without protections, potential interference from 5G signals could lead to flight cancellations or planes being diverted from airports.

Driving the news: The wireless companies initially rejected a request from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and FAA administrator Steve Dickson, but late Monday said they would agree to a two-week delay of their deployment plans.

  • The companies also say they will not operate 5G base stations along runways for 6 months while the FAA studies the issue. Those restrictions resemble rules imposed in France.

The intrigue: The debate reached the White House, with President Joe Biden applauding the agreement as a "significant step in the right direction" in a statement Tuesday.

  • "This agreement ensures that there will be no disruptions to air operations over the next two weeks and puts us on track to substantially reduce disruptions to air operations when AT&T and Verizon launch 5G on Jan. 19," Biden said in the statement.
  • In a letter to the carriers, Buttigieg and Dickson say they will not seek a further delay of 5G deployment in light of the mitigation agreement from the companies, absent "unforeseen aviation safety issues."

What they're saying: “At Secretary Buttigieg's request, we have voluntarily agreed to one additional two-week delay of our deployment of C-Band 5G services," AT&T said in a statement. "We also remain committed to the six-month protection zone mitigations we outlined in our letter.”

  • “We’ve agreed to a two-week delay which promises the certainty of bringing this nation our game-changing 5G network in January delivered over America’s best and most reliable network," Verizon spokesperson Rich Young said.
  • The FAA said in a statement: "Safety is the core of our mission and this guides all of our decisions. The FAA thanks AT&T and Verizon for agreeing to a voluntary delay and for their proposed mitigations. We look forward to using the additional time and space to reduce flight disruptions associated with this 5G deployment."

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include statements from President Joe Biden, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and FAA administrator Steve Dickson.

Go deeper

Jan 4, 2022 - Podcasts

The latest on the Jan. 6 investigations

It's been almost a year since supporters of former President Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol and tried to overturn the results of the presidential election.

Since then, federal prosecutors have charged more than 700 people in connection with the deadly insurrection. We catch you up quick on where things stand now with both the congressional and federal investigations.

  • Plus, wireless providers vs. the FAA over 5G.
  • And, Florida’s record-breaking COVID case count.

Guests: Axios' Andrew Solender, Selene San Felice and Margaret Harding McGill.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Julia Redpath, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Lydia McMullen-Laird, Sabeena Singhani and Alex Sugiura. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at podcasts@axios.com. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

Go deeper:

Updated 5 mins ago - Economy & Business

Tax season nightmare ahead for understaffed IRS

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The IRS will start accepting 2021 tax returns in less than a week, and the filing delays and administrative headaches to come might eclipse last year — which was “one of the worst filing seasons," according to an independent advocacy agency within the IRS.

Why it matters: For taxpayers, especially with complex or paper filings, this means headaches, delayed refunds, and mistakes.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.