5G and weather satellites looking to coexist in the long term

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We’ve all seen the commercials. 5g is the next generation of mobile broadband.

Aija Leiponen, a professor at Cornell University said, “It will be making things faster and enhance the types of communications and expand the types of communications people can use their smart devices for.”

More data and faster too? That sounds great! But the science community is concerned about its location on the electromagnetic spectrum.

It happens to be right next to the frequencies NOAA and NASA satellites use right now to sense water vapor in the atmosphere. Those satellites are really important for tracking storms. 

Not only is it close but scientists are worried that 5G is going to be a noisy neighbor. According to studies by NASA and NOAA, that interference could degrade forecasts by up to 30%.

Neil Jacobs, the head of NOAA, told congress that change could set forecasting back to the 1980’s, reducing hurricane warning time by 2 or 3 days. The effects won’t be noticed immediately, the roll-out of 5-g is going to take time.  That space was only just auctioned off by the FCC for nearly $2 billion this past March.  

Leiponen said, “It’s a lot of money for the operators to build up, upgrade their 4G networks to 5G so they’re going to be smart about their investments, where they get the most return and the most users.”

Scientists continue to perform studies and push for stricter limits so 5G doesn’t bleed into their weather data.

Leiponen said, “Some of these opportunities that 5G brings are so transformative and revolutionary that it will be a long term process to figure everything out and we have to design new laws and new regulations to enable some of these things.”

So that both life-changing technologies can coexist in the long term.

The latest letter that the Committee on Science, Space and Technology sent to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

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