It’s not just ISRO — global weather agencies also think 5G technology will eat up valuable airwaves

The world's radio spectrum is a limited resource, only narrow band is available to accomodate communicationWMO

  • The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) is expressed concerned that bandwidths allocated for 5G technology could put the future of other applications, like early weather warning systems, at risk.
  • They claim that the decision to allocation 24.25 to 27.5 GHz for 5G technology would impair the accuracy of data collection.
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has expressed similar concerns as it opposed the use of the 26 GHz band for 5G deployment since its used for satellite service.
It's not just ISRO — global agencies are also worried that 5G airwaves will interfere with their satellites.

The World Meteorological Organisation ( WMO) has expressed concern over the allocation of bandwidth — 24.25 to 27.5 GHz — for 5G technology during the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19). They claim that it will severely hamper the functioning of a number of different technologies — including weather early warning systems.

"The race to release 5G technology threatens to squeeze out other radio-frequency dependent technologies, including the world's critical national severe weather early warning systems," stated the WMO.

And the Europen Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecast (ECMWF) agrees. "The agreement reached in Egypt falls far short of ensuring 5G applications do not interfere with weather observations at 24 GHz," it said.

The fight over airwaves

The world's radio spectrum is a limited resource. Only a narrow band is actually useful for communication purposes. Within that narrow band, everything and everyone — from radio, TV, mobile phones, and WiFi to aircraft, ships, and the military — need to function.

According to ISRO, it needs the 26GHz bandwidth to operate its satellites. 5G services could interfere with the data being sent back and forth.

The WMO and ECMWF are more concerned with the opposite end of the bandwidth between 23.6 to 24 GHz. "That could lead to nearly ten times more interfering out-of-band emissions than what the WMO had recommended allowing," said the international agency.

The catch is that the new regulations for bandwidth use for 5G will only come into effect after 1 September 2027. "The risk, therefore, is that 5G could roll-out more quickly than initially anticipated, creating an unregulated increase in interference in the 24GHz," explained the WMO.

This means that telecom operators will be incentivised to deploy their 5G technologies before 2027 because there will be no regulations till then. Even when the regulations are enforced, they won't be asked to replace their technology — only adhere to more stringent standards.

"Potential effects of this could be felt across multiple impact areas including aviation, shipping, agricultural meteorology and warning of extreme events as well as our common ability to monitor climate change in the future," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement.

See also:
As the rest of the world flies high on 5G, most of India will still be on a 4G network in 2025

Here are the biggest challenges for India as it rolls out its 5G network, according to a strategy expert

China is threatening India into using its 5G technology
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