Delegates at an international conference yesterday approved a standard for electronic noise emitted by 5G, the next-generation wireless communication technology, that will result in interference with weather-forecasting observations from space, meteorologists say.
The decision at the United Nations’s World Radiocommunication Conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, restricts the noise from 5G emissions from to –33 decibel watts (dBW) outside of the 24-gigahertz communications band. After 8 years, the limit would be tightened to –39 dBW, on the assumption that 5G will not be widely deployed until that time.
The standard, although in line with European recommendations, is less stringent than the –55-dBW standard sought by the World Meteorological Organization to avoid conflicts with the neighboring frequency used by satellites to collect crucial data about humidity. Some dilution of this water vapor signal will be inevitable once 5G gets fully underway, Eric Allaix, a meteorologist who chairs the World Meteorological Organization’s group on radio-frequency coordination, told The Verge. “We will not be able at that time to make the distinction between the observation of the earth and atmospheric radiation, and the interference coming from 5G.”
The deal does set a standard that is much tighter than the –20 dBW backed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, a proposal that triggered months of debate with scientists, as Science previously reported.