Media reported that the international body responsible for managing global telecommunications approved the new radio frequency standards on 21 November. In response, meteorologists said the long-awaited decision threatened the future of global weather forecasting because it would reduce the quality of mobile phone networks from space to Earth observations.
Now, wireless companies from around the world are launching their next-generation network, 5G. The new protocol means setting out the radio frequencies that 5G devices can transmit. However, some of these frequencies are very close to the frequencies that satellites use to collect important weather and climate data, which is a very dangerous thing. To prevent these signals from interfering with each other, the researchers propose reducing the amount of noise allowed to leak in 5G transmissions.
At a recent meeting of the International Telecommunication Union in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, negotiators agreed to take two phases of protection against frequencies close to 240 GHz, which are close to the range used by meteorological satellites to detect water levels in the atmosphere. Between now and 2027, companies operating 5G networks will have a relatively loose standard, after which regulation will become more stringent.
For this new development in the 5G industry, Eric Allaix, a meteorologist with the Wim’s meteorological organization in Toulouse and head of the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) radio frequency coordination group, says eight years of relatively lax regulation is a serious concern for weather forecasters. He said WMO was very upset and read out a statement of concern in the minutes of the meeting.
“5G will be very competitive,” says Renee Leduc, a consultant at Narayan Strategy in Washington, D.C., who works on spectrum sharing. In the early to mid-20s, we will see a very rapid recovery. So while more measures to protect Earth observation suing for 2027 will be introduced, “I’m still very concerned about the time between now and that time.” “