House committee sounds alarm over 5G interference with weather forecasting

Reporter: Sara Girard
Published: Updated:
FILE- In this Jan. 9, 2019, file photo a sign advertises 5G at the Qualcomm booth at CES International in Las Vegas. 5G is a new technical standard for wireless networks that promises faster speeds; less lag, or “latency,” when connecting to the network; and the ability to connect many devices to the internet without bogging it down. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Faster mobile phone data speeds are coming, but at what cost?

Some members of Congress are concerned science is being ignored so 5G can be rolled out.

The FCC has been auctioning off access to the 24 GHz band used for 5G since 2018, but scientists say this band is too close to the 23.8 GHz band used for collecting weather data.

NOAA and NASA both raised alarms over the possibility of currently planned frequencies of 5G interfering with their ability to forecast weather, but the FCC doesn’t seem concerned.

Now, members of the House Science Committee sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office asking it to get to the bottom of the disagreement.

In a letter that begins with, “We are deeply concerned…” they explain that over the course of the year, experts from NASA and NOAA have continued to warn that certain 5G technology could interfere with the crucial weather data and instruments that gather it.


In May, Dr. Neil Jacobs, the acting head of NOAA, told a congressional committee that 5G technology “would result in roughly 77 percent data loss from our passive microwave sounders.”

Watch the exchange below:

He said this would essentially take the United States back to the weather forecasting abilities of the 1980s.

Before that hearing, at another meeting in April, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine expressed his concerns saying, “There’s a risk, depending on the power and the position of the cell towers in the 5G network. It could bleed over into our spectrum, and that’s a risk. And the assessments NASA has done in conjunction with NOAA have determined that there is a very high probability that we are going to lose a lot of data.”

Fast forward to now, and the House Science Committee wants to know why the FCC isn’t on the same page since the chairman has said there is “no evidence of potential interference.” And the FCC plans to move forward with current interference limits.

The Committee wants the GAO to get to the bottom of the disagreements and find out if there’s any way to resolve them.

WINK News reached out to the Government Accountability Office, and a representative said they are reviewing the letter. The process could take a couple of weeks before any decisions are made whether to investigate.

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