The 2020’s decade holds huge potential for the ever-growing 5G wireless networks around the globe. While the 5G technology would guarantee greater transmission speeds, it would prove to be a challenge for weather forecasting.
The range of radio frequencies over which the 5G equipment can transmit comes very close to those used by satellites in space to gather crucial weather and climate data. In order to come to a solution for this problem and negotiate the frequencies used by 5G companies, a meeting was held by the International Telecommunication Union in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. During the meeting, it was decided that until 2027, companies will have a relatively loose standard and will operate their 5G frequencies near 24 GHz. After this time period, the regulation would become stricter. Even though the 5G networks will operate at several different frequencies, the key one under discussion is 23.8 GHz. If a station is transmitting a signal near the 23.8 GHz frequency, a weather satellite might pick it up considering it a water vapor and result in inaccurate data.
Meteorologists suggested that the problem could be solved if there was enough noise buffer between 5G transmissions and the water-vapor signal. Unsatisfied, meteorologists and government regulators have been trying to define an appropriate level of interference even after the meeting in Egypt. The World Meteorological Organization has been advocating for -55 decibel watts, the biggest buffer proposed. In addition to that, the European regulators decided on -42 decibel watts while the US Communications Commission decided on -20 decibel watts; an awfully low value than what the rest of the regulators proposed.
In the end, it was concluded that until September of 2027, -33 decibel watts would be used and after that -39 decibels would be put into action. All this was decided by the regulators even though researchers at NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that a noise buffer of -52.4 decibel watts was required to protect the water vapor observations.
Meteorologists and scientists are concerned that in the 2020s, we’ll get to see a very quick uptick in the 5G networks. Inaccurate weather forecasts and climate observations could hinder Earth observations which would not only lead to increased uncalculated natural disasters but also displays our lack of concern towards the protection of our ecosystems and tackling climate change.