News ID: 252413
Published: 1026 GMT May 06, 2019

New 5G network could interrupt weather forecast satellites

New 5G network could interrupt weather forecast satellites

The rollout of 5G mobile networks could have a big impact on weather forecasters' ability to predict major weather events.

Weather satellites use certain radio frequency bands in the electromagnetic spectrum to monitor water vapor in the atmosphere, but bands near these frequencies may also be used by 5G networks, Sky News reported.

In particular the concern regards the 26 GHz band (between 24.25 GHz to 27.5 GHz) which is being sold internationally as part of the 5G spectrum.

Telecommunications company Ofcom in the UK is considering putting this band to auction in the future.

The auction will see the communications regulator offer a private company the chance to buy the exclusive right to communicate using those frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum.

However, the potential 5G band is very close to the 23.8 GHz frequency which is emitted by water vapor.

It is radio signals at this frequency which meteorological satellites use to track weather patterns — and the 5G signal could potentially interfere with this data collection.

Jim Dale, senior meteorologist British Weather Services, called it an ‘international concern’ and told Sky News, "It's a bit like crowded skies — there are a lot satellites in the sky all doing different jobs.

"Weather satellites and 5G happen to be potentially sharing a very, very similar frequency and therefore there will be a potential conflict, and this conflict is likely to affect one or the other.

Dale said it's not a problem yet because 5G is yet to be rolled out, but the issue needs to be resolved before it is.

He said, "Weather knows no boundaries. We've got to work together and compromise."

"This is something that definitely needs not just the weather people but the 5G people to get together and make sure the conflict does not happen."

Ofcom and other national regulators will meet to discuss these uses of the spectrum at the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) later this year.

The WRC is an event held every four years to discuss amendments to the international treaties which regulate how states use the spectrum.

Among the topics that will be discussed are bands of ‘no-use’ spectrum between sensitive frequencies such as the 23.8 GHz frequency emitted by water vapor and nearby bands which could interfere with those signals.

An Ofcom spokesperson told Sky News’ "Any future use of the 26 GHz band for 5G mobile in the UK would ensure protection for weather satellites band.

"We've been working with international partners on such technical measures and will be taking these to the WRC frequency planning event at the end of the year."


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