After the first frequencies for the 5G network were set up in March in the United States, there has been a fierce battle between two unexpected opponents since then. The use of the 24-GHz band is contradicted by NASA and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), which warn that this may greatly impair the quality of meteorological observations and, consequently, weather forecasts. The problem that should have been solved professionally turned into a political bargain that peaked on May 22 in the NOAA director’s testimony before the Congress. A few flat, but not without foundation, he estimated that the massive use of the 5G band would at least a third worsen the quality of weather forecasts, which would return us to the year 1980 – and for example, in the course of the hurricane movement, two or three days of looking into the future. They would have had less time to evacuate, he dramatically added.
These boiling predictions are supported by physics. A characteristic absorption band of the water vapor lies in the range of 23.6 to 24.0 GHz, and most weather satellites now photograph the Earth today with a frequency of 23.8 GHz. In this way, they can accurately determine the distribution and concentration of water vapor in the atmosphere, which is a key parameter in weather forecasts. In the meantime, the 5G will start at 24 GHz. This constitutes an important source of interference for weather satellites, which could result in poorer measurements of the concentration of water vapor.
Neil Jacobs, who heads the NOAA, said that we would lose as much as 77 percent of the data, which would make the forecast worse by 30 percent and return us 40 years in the past. It adds that at present there are no other methods for passive observation of water vapor in the atmosphere. NASA agrees with this. In the committee for science at the House of Representatives, Jim Bridenstein, director, emphasized that this part of the electromagnetic spectrum is indispensable for predicting the movement of hurricanes. This is important because evacuations depend on this.
These are not new arguments, only the controversy has plunged into the public only now. The new 5G NR specifications have specific requirements that the band 24,25-27,50 GHz of transmission is weaker due to weather satellites (paragraph 22.214.171.124.2). But NOAA and NASA argue that this is not enough and that the need to limit it even more.
On the other side, the CTIA, which is also affiliated with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is also on the other. They first claimed that meteorologists were misleading and specifying the specifications of 13 year old equipment that is not even used. When meteorologists clearly denied this, CTIA still insisted that the new sensors were significantly less sensitive to 5G interference. Now, Ajit Pai, the director of the FCC, has also made a call, which also denies the danger. It claims that 5G is at least 250 MHz away from the part of the spectrum for weather satellites. It adds that there are tens of thousands of different links operating at just below 23.8 GHz, but they do not cause problems. Since he has not seen any other study that truly proves the problematic of 5G, it does not support the further reduction of transmission power in this part of the spectrum. The FCC, however, permits the passage of the spectrum in the power of -20 dB, while NASA and NOAA are affected by a decrease of -50 dB. NOAA is preparing a study on the effects of 5G, which has not yet been completed.
Similar debates may also be repeated at higher frequencies. At 36-37 GHz rain and snow are detected, and at 50 GHz the temperature in the atmosphere is measured. Further growth of the 5G could trigger debate on the expansion into these frequency bands, where they would again run against meteorologists.
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