5G is coming, so brace yourself. And it’s a technology that is powerful enough to cause trade war between two world superpowers. But that’s not the news right now. The most positive side is how this technology will change how we use our smartphones by offering high speed that won’t just download anything but super-fast download.
Of course, nothing new comes without any fear of how it will affect our ecosystem. And a technology as powerful as the 5G network had been a point of concern for n]a number of people all around the internet and even government sectors.
Even now, there were reports about the network will affect the accuracy of the weather reports. There was an article back in April which was published on Nature.com which detailed the potential fallout of a recent auction from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of 24.25 to 24.45 and 24.75 to 25.25 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum. The problem is that: that’s close to the frequency meteorologists use to detect water vapor in the air.
Will 5G Disrupt the Weather?
A little analysis might help to iron things out of course. Water vapor emits a weak radio signal at the frequency of 23.8 GHz which satellites detects. Now, Water vapor imagery has then become a very crucial part when forecasting about weather as this helps meteorologists to better understand what is going up in the atmosphere and then they can create a computer-based model with a very crucial data to help forecast the development of storms.
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“The fears are realistic as a reduction in the ability to detect water vapor is estimated to return our forecast accuracy to levels last seen around 1980,” Kevin McMahon, executive director of mobile and emerging technologies at System and Programming Resources, Inc. (SPR), told Digital Trends. “We’re bumping up against nature. There are consequential trade offs to consider.”
LET’S TALK PROPAGATION
To dive in deeper into understanding how things work, we need to first explain the science behind radio frequency itself especially, how it propagates. But home or car radios might be the best ways to explain this.
Now if you’re traveling in your vehicle or tuning around your radio, a very low frequency, radio waves travels farther because they have a very longer wavelengths. In fact, Radio frequency can travel through objects very easily.
If you consider how farther a shortwave radio can travel, you’ll be amazed that they can travel around the world at night even with little power source which is similar to the AM radio whose frequency is just a little below Shortwave which can travel far but not as the latter.
If we are then to compare this to the FM Frequency which much higher you can see how powerful things will get. Even with a really shorter wavelength, FM radio signals can rarely travel more than 100 miles which means to transmit over a substantial distance, much more power is needed to power up the FM frequency so it can trump the shortwave or AM bands.
In normal mobile phones, the frequencies in use are far above those being used on FM radios. These wavelengths are much more shorter and so the range is reduced which makes it’s ability to deal with obstructions far weaker. If you consider why the earlier generation of wireless networks in the U.S were so poor, it’s because they were operating at frequencies of 1700 and 2100MHZ.
WHAT ABOUT THE GIGAHERTZ?
If you ask why there is need for the usage of a gigahertz spectrum for the 5G network, congestion is a simple reason. If you consider how lots of users can share Frequency spectrum on lower bands, small portions of spectrum can serve a much more users and devices all at ones.
So delving more into the Multi-GHz portion of radio spectrum, the more you realize that it’s been used by fewer people. In fact the number of the users are so little that the small hoses of bandwidth of lower band wireless becomes larger pipes at the super high frequencies or the mmWave.
The mmWave on the other hand can cover on the average 30 to 300GHz even though frequencies as low as 24GHz are considered mmWave as well. But then the amount of bandwidth available in mmWave is immense. In fact, experts believes that the mmWave has the potential to boost download speed to as high as 10Gbps which will make almost all applications and IoTs even self driving vehicles to connect at a very high speed without interference considering the fact that all of these applications require massive amounts of bandwidth, and the spectrum just isn’t there across the lower bands to do it.
Propagation on the other hand with frequencies of 1700 and 2100MHz where majority of networks operates had reception issues indoors and heavily obstructed areas which is compounded as you get even higher network frequencies.
“[5G] relies upon the millimeter-wave spectrum to deliver its top speeds, and it is a hard fact of physics that these higher frequencies degrade more easily, and cannot propagate as well as lower ones,” BroadbandNow policy expert, Tyler Cooper, explained to Digital Trends. “This means that 5G’s greatest potential will most likely be relegated to extremely dense urban ‘pockets.’”
This had forced Verizon during it’s April roll-out of the 5G in the US to place mini-tower on literally every corner of every block which is to enhance communication between this network and aid it’s frequencies.
WEATHER SATELLITES ARE GOOD
mmWave is the reason behind the usage of weather satellites and any other potential user of Multi-GHz frequencies. In fact, new technologies can’t possibly change this in the near future. So while auctions might have been opened for frequencies which are closer to these Satelllites’ operating locations the frequencies sold are of questionable value to wireless carriers given their poor propagation performance.
Furthermore, it is not entirely clear that a wireless carrier would either need or want to use the small portion of the bands recently sold that might interfere with satellite imagery. Spectrum licensees are expected to keep interference to a minimum as a condition of their license. For the most part, carriers have been good stewards of their networks, and there’s really no reason to expect they wouldn’t be now.
But we might be wondering if at some point there would be problems down the road because of the 5G technology is just in it’s first generation and upgrades are definitely going to enhance the possibilities of increasing their frequency. The fact that there will be problems overtime isn’t something we can just conclude at the moment but things could change overtime though. But for now, there is no cause for alarm according to meteorologists.