5G network technology promises to bring great advantages to the connectivity of all devices. Improved performance and lower latency are the key to the development of the Internet of Things in the mobile world (smart cars, home devices…). The arrival of 5G will be the definitive boost for the development of all these alternatives.
However, on May 17 at the United States Capitol, the current head of NOAA reported that interference from 5G mobile phones could reduce the accuracy of weather forecasts by around 30%. In other words, it would be the equivalent of going back to the weather forecasting of the 80s.
What seems like a more or less trivial issue in Spain becomes crucial in the United States. Predicting when hurricanes, typhoons or tropical storms make landfall is crucial for the correct evacuation of people and the effectiveness of weather predictions: the response capacity to an event of these characteristics could be reduced between two and three days for a population that inhabit these areas.
NOAA urges technology companies to stop using the 24 GHz band until a solution is found and delay its auction.
Why can 5G technology interfere with weather forecasting?
Jordan Gerth, a meteorologist at the University of Wisconsin, has been studying this problem as part of a study group at the American Meteorological Society.
The problem is that water vapor emits a weak signal in the atmosphere at a frequency of 23.8 GHz, which is very close to what has been sold for the next generation of 5G wireless.
The NOAA GOES-R and the European MetOP satellites monitor this frequency to collect data that feed atmospheric prediction models. The proposed solution is to move the 5G frequency band since while this is possible, logically, it is not the emission of the signal by the water vapor can be changed.
Gerth says wireless service providers could reduce the power emitted by 5G cell phone transmitters so as not to drown out the satellite’s sensitive sensors. NOAA and NASA want to limit interfering noise to a level closer to what the European Union and the World Meteorological Organization consider acceptable.
While the level of interference that the World Meteorological Organization considers acceptable is -55 dBW, the European Commission has set it at -42 dBW, the US FCC auction has set a limit of -20 dBW which is a lot louder than the previous ones.
The problematic frequency bands are those close to detecting rain and snow (36-27 GHz), temperature (50.2-50.4 GHz) and rain and ice (80-90 GHz).
It is to be hoped that an international agreement will be reached to agree on the bands in which 5G technology operates since, for example, imprecise weather data from the United States directly affects weather prediction in Europe. In October, in Egypt, there will be a meeting of the World Meteorological Organization where it is hoped that a global agreement will be reached. Currently, the American proposal represents 150 times more noise than the European one and more than 3,000 times that of the World Meteorological Organization’s plan.