It may seem like an odd question but what is more important to you as you go about your daily business – an accurate weather forecast or high-speed internet access on your smartphone?
Well, a group of scientific bodies in the US is suggesting that now is the time to choose one over the other. They claim that signals from weather satellites, delivered via satellite, could be disrupted by new 5G mobile networks and have written to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over this issue.
This group has called the situation “deeply concerning” and is reportedly asking for an auction of radio spectrum for 5G uses to be delayed. According to their experts, interference caused by a growth in communications activity could slow down the reporting of important weather patterns to the public.
The American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association all maintain that accurate weather information – for example during hurricanes – is “crucially important for public safety and scientific research”.
Meanwhile, the organisation pushing to use the band in question (1,675 to 1,680 MHz) for the delivery of 5G services, says it is essential this rollout go ahead.
Ligado Networks argue that failure to allow 5G use within the band would “lead to the inefficient allocation of this prime, lower mid-band spectrum – something the US can ill afford as it attempts to win the race to 5G”.
The company has proposed that rather than relying on satellite communications, weather forecasters could instead download weather data via internet services. However, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has tested the speed that this technology could deliver aerial pictures of the Earth and found them to be too slow.
Independent consultant and author of “The 5G Myth” Prof William Webb told the BBC that the degree of interference depends on where new 5G networks spring up.
“If it’s only deployed in city centres it probably won’t cause interference, but if it’s used in large volumes near the meteorological sites then yes it could,” he commented.