WEATHER forecasts could be thrown into chaos and the lives of Britons put at serious risk when the UK’s first 5G networks go live this summer.
That’s because the next-gen mobile signals could jam our weather satellites, making it tricky to predict incoming deadly storms, top scientists warn.
A major upgrade to 4G, 5G promises boosted mobile speeds that will allow you to download an HD movie to your gadget in seconds.
Vodafone recently announced its 5G network – the UK’s first – will go live in July, while EE has vague plans to flip the switch later this year.
Experts warn the networks threaten to seriously damage their ability to predict the weather, including dangerous floods and hurricanes.
Interference from 5G wireless signals could cut the accuracy of forecasts by up to 30%, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“If you look back in time to see when our forecast skill was roughly 30% less than it was today, it’s somewhere around 1980,” said NOAA boss Dr Neil Jacobs.
Dr Jacobs made the alarming comments last week while testifying to the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Environment in Washington, DC.
He said residents in the US could get two to three fewer days to prepare for extreme weather events like hurricanes if 5G networks go ahead.
But it’s not just Americans who will be affected.
Earlier this month, a global team of meteorologists cautioned that the UK’s weather forecasts could also take a hit.
Networks will result in poorer warnings about dangerous storms, and loss of life, they said.
“The way 5G is being introduced could seriously compromise our ability to forecast major storms,” said Tony McNally of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts in Reading.
Experts warn 5G networks could muddle our weather forecasts[/caption]
“In the end it could make the difference between life and death. We are very concerned about this,” he told the Guardian.
The problem stems from the band of radio frequencies taken up by 5G signals.
Scientists are concerned that the 25 GHz band used for most 5G networks is too close to the 23.8 GHz band used for collecting data about Earth’s atmosphere.
Experts rely on this data – which helps them track air humidity, wind speeds and more – to make weather predictions.
What is 5G and when is it coming to the UK?
The next-generation mobile tech is almost ready to upgrade your smartphone…
- There is no official definition of 5G but it is thought to be similar to its predecessors, 3G and 4G.
- It will be a wireless connection built specifically to give devices – like your mobile phone or tablet – a faster and more reliable internet connection.
- The “G” in 5G stands for “generation” – that’s why it is known as “next-generation technology”.
- Companies such as BT, Vodaphone and Nokia have also given the development of 5G their support.
- The Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) alliance states that for something to be considered 5G it must offer faster data rates.
- NGMN is hoping for speeds of 20Gbps and one millisecond latency.
- This would provide download speeds which are 40 times faster than 4G.
- NGMN believes 5G would provide an era of being able to download files in the blink of an eye – vital to the success of smart homes and self-driving cars.
- Tests conducted by 5G modem-maker Qualcomm, on the other hand, showed speeds eight times faster than 4G.
- Qualcomm’s trials showed an improvement in browsing download speeds from a 4G average of 56 megabits-per-second, to more than 490 megabits-per-second for 5G.
- Vodafone has said it will switch on its 5G network on July 3, 2019, while EE has set a vague 2019 deadline.
- Other networks such as O2 are less optimistic, claiming it won’t land in the UK till 2020 plus.
Without accurate readings, it could mean warnings about incoming storms, as well as predictions of where they will hit, come far later.
“Such data is critical to our ability to make forecasts,” Niels Bormann, also of the Reading weather centre, told the Guardian.
“They are a unique natural resource, and if we lose this capability, weather forecasts will get significantly worse.”
The Sun has contacted Vodafone and EE for comment.
EE is launching one of the UK’s first 5G networks later this year[/caption]
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In other 5G news, EE recently revealed the 16 UK launch cities to get 5G internet in 2019.
Vodafone set a July 3 launch date for its 5G network last week.
Chinese firm Huawei has a controversial deal with the UK to build parts of its 5G network that could allow the company to switch off our household appliances.
What do you think about the upcoming 5G networks? Let us know in the comments!