The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) logo is seen before the FCC Net Neutrality hearing in Washington February 26, 2015.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) logo is seen before the FCC Net Neutrality hearing in Washington February 26, 2015. Reuters / Yuri Gripas

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) on Tuesday vowed to improve coordination on spectrum management after a 5G aviation dispute threatened flights.

The agencies said they will work cooperatively to resolve spectrum policy issues and will hold formal, regular meetings to conduct joint spectrum planning. Earlier this month, lawmakers blasted the FCC and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for failing to avoid an embarrassing last-minute standoff between the aviation and wireless industries.

The FCC and NTIA will update a memorandum of understanding to "address gaps in government coordination."

The agencies vowed to "recommit to scientific integrity and evidence-based policymaking and "foster proactive technical exchange and engagement with industry and other federal agencies by participating in cross-agency advisory groups."

New NTIA head Alan Davison will testify on Wednesday before a House subcommittee, pledging "a coordinated, national approach to spectrum use."

The FAA had warned that 5G interference could impact sensitive airplane electronics such as radio altimeters

The rollout took place on Jan. 19, but only after Verizon Communications and AT&T agreed to delay deploying about 510 5G wireless towers near airports.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson testified that federal agencies need to improve their coordination because there will be future spectrum issues.

"The process did not serve anyone well," Dickson told lawmakers. "We certainly need to do better as a country."

Acting NTIA head Adam Candeub in late 2020 declined to submit FAA concerns to the FCC. Candeub said in an op-ed that the "FAA's letter forwarded no new or convincing scientific evidence or concerns which the FCC had not already reviewed."

Airlines CEOs on Jan. 17 warned of an impending "catastrophic" aviation crisis that could ground almost all traffic because of 5G.

Verizon and AT&T's deployment delay did not prevent dozens of foreign carriers from canceling international flights to the United States.

FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said last month, "As we use more of our wireless airways for commercial activity we are going to have to engage in more coordination early and often."