FCC to Auction Electromagnetic Spectrum Needed to Transmit Weather Data

On April 17, 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it would auction licenses for the use of electromagnetic spectrum in the 24 gigahertz (Ghz) band to deploy fifth generation (5G) wireless technology. According to scientist, this could affect with the collection of weather data, which is currently transmitted via the 24 Ghz band. Scientists are particularly concerned that use of the 24 Ghz band for 5G could lead to interference, which may corrupt the weather data, and prevent its use in forecasting and other research projects.

In a letter dated February 28, 2019, the Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Jim Bridenstine warned that the FCC’s proposal “would have a significant negative impact on the transmission of critical Earth science data — an American taxpayer investment spanning decades decades and billions of dollars with data supporting public safety, natural disaster and weather forecasting.” The letter invited the FCC to participate in a meeting at NASA headquarters “to continue the long-standing interagency reconciliation process on this important topic.” In a March 8 letter, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai rejected that invitation, saying that the agency had already “engaged extensively” with NASA and other agencies, and would be moving ahead with the auction.