Thursday, 16 May 2019 05:24

Warning use of 24 GHz band for 5G could interfere with weather forecasts Featured

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Warning use of 24 GHz band for 5G could interfere with weather forecasts Image by O12 from Pixabay

Two US politicians have written to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, asking him to prevent wireless companies from operating in the 24 GHz band, which will be used for 5G networks, until weather forecasting operations are protected.

This follows a warning from the US Navy that 5G mobile networks could interfere with weather satellites. The FCC began selling spectrum in the 24 GHz band in March.

Democrat Senators Ron Wyden and Maria Cantwell asked Pai "not to award any final licences to winning bidders for future commercial broadband use in the 24 GHz spectrum until the FCC approves the passive band protection limits that NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration determine are necessary to protect critical satellite-based measurement of atmospheric water vapour needed to forecast the weather".

In its letter, the US Navy said: "Remotely sensed observations (water vapour) may be degraded or lost due to growing interference from the broader adoption of 5G; specifically, in the 24 GHz bands.

"Naval operations will continue but with a probable degradation of weather and ocean models, resulting in increased risk in safety of flight and safety of navigation, and degraded battlespace awareness for tactical/operational advantage."

The two Democrats pointed out that the FCC had begun the auction of spectrum between 24.25 and 25.25 GHz for future commercial broadband use despite objections from NASA, NOAA and the American Meteorological Society.

They said these entities had all argued that out-of-band emissions from commercial broadband transmissions in the 24 GHZ band would disrupt the collection of water vapour data measured in a neighbouring frequency band (23.6 to 24 GHz) that meteorologists relied on for weather forecasts.

Listing the problems with operating in the 24 GHz band, the Navy letter further said NOAA and NASA had conducted studies that showed interference in passive collection at the 23.6-24 GHz band from the adjacent 5G band (24.25 GHz).

"As such it is expected that interference will result in a partial-to-complete loss of remotely sensed water-vapour measurements. It is also expected that impacts will be concentrated in urban areas of the United States first."

The letter said an additional assumption was that if the US expanded into the 24 GHz band, other countries would follow suit and thus impacts would eventually be worldwide, concentrated near densely-populated areas.

Thanks to Ars Technica for links to the two letters.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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