The next-generation of wireless technology is widely known to be 5G services. It’s a product that is going to be widely used, and many companies are working hard to get their piece of the pie while they can. Even DISH Network is expected to utilize their massive spectrum holdings to create one of the first 5G networks. However, it’s important to remember that new technology always comes with its own unique set of problems.
The last few years have been record-breaking in terms of natural disasters. Climate change scientists predict that this trend will only continue in the future. Knowing that, storm forecasting has become a critical skill. Unfortunately, 5G networks could prove to be a big problem for the storm forecasting industry.
If a 5G network is created in the United States at the current proposed power levels, experts believe that satellites will have trouble reading the water vapor emissions that they use to predict storm severity and movement. This could lead to botched evacuation orders, lack of warning and decreased warning time. All of this would make natural disaster all the more dangerous for the average citizen.
According to Neil Jacobs, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a 5G network would set forecast accuracy back to what it was in 1980. In a recent testimony that Jacobs gave to Congress he remarked that a 5G network “…would result in the reduction of hurricane track forecast lead time by roughly two to three days.”
What’s even more alarming is that this isn’t just conjecture, these experts have already started running tests. In one test designed to mimic 5G interference, Hurricane Sandy was incorrectly predicted to head back out to sea. If that had actually happened, thousands more people would have been put in danger.
The U.S. government seems to be divided on the issue. The Navy and Commerce Secretary have both voiced concerns, while the FCC had steadily moved forward with auctioning off spectrum for 5G. DISH Network, is one of the largest holders of that spectrum.
Where do we go from here? That remains to be seen. Some lawmakers are already calling for a stay on activating a 5G network. “We write with a straight-forward request: Don’t allow wireless companies to operate in a 24 GHz band until vital weather forecasting operations are protected,” Senator Ron Wyden, of Oregon, and Senator Maria Cantwell, of Washington, said in a letter.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has a different view. “The commission’s decisions with respect to spectrum have been and will continue to be based on sound engineering rather than exaggerated and unverified last-minute assertions,” said Pai in a direct reply to Johnson’s letter.
The truth is there is a lot of money at stake, as there always is with new technology. Everyone wants a faster wireless connection. The question now is at what cost.