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Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Why the US-China 5G war is bad news for meteorologists

Why the battle over 5G is bad news for meteorologists: Ongoing negotiations at the World Radiocommunications Conference in Sharm El Sheikh are expected to set regulations that would ensure the deployment of 5G will not come at the cost of less effective weather forecasting. This year’s meeting comes after meteorologists voiced concerns that the debut of 5G could interrupt weather satellites and cause havoc when predicting weather events. Because 5G networks use a frequency band close to the one used by weather satellites, the worry is that 5G will interfere with the signals picked up by satellites.

Enter, the US, who would do anything to get ahead: While scientists are proposing stricter limits on 5G interference the US has other ideas and has been auctioning off bands to mobile networks ahead of the 5G rollout.

A video from the Wall Street Journal offers clues on why this is the case: US telecom companies are being heavily backed by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which auctions off parts of the country’s allotted radio spectrum to the private sector. The FCC competes with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which auctions the other part to federal agencies that are big-time spectrum users, such as NASA and the DoD. As a result, US tech firms have limited access to spots along the spectrum, and are primarily using high band to deploy 5G services. This recent Wall Street Journal video explains more (watch, runtime: 5:17).

The WRC is underway until 22 November. It is organized by the UN-affiliated International Telecommunications Union’s — the worldwide organization responsible for global radio spectrum that convenes every three to four years to review radio regulations.

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