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Study claims 5G mobile network could affect signals from weather satellites

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Image: The Guardian UK/Steve Parsons/PA

•Technology to add $8 trillion to global GDP by 2030
There are indications that signals from weather satellites could suffer from interference — leading to forecasting errors, because of how 5G mobile networks use similar frequencies.

The warning came from researchers from the United States (U.S.), who modelled the impact of the so-called ‘5G leakage’ on forecasting of past weather events.

They found that interference from the high-speed mobile networks could alter forecasts of precipitation by up to 0.9 millimetres and temperature by 2.34°F.

“Our study — the first of its kind that quantifies the effect of 5G on weather prediction error, suggests that there is an impact on the accuracy of weather forecasts,” said paper author, Narayan Mandayam of Rutgers University.

In their study, Mandayam and colleagues modeled the impact of so-called 5G ‘leakage’ — a phenomenon in which emissions from a transmitter would accidentally encroach on neighbouring frequency bands used for other purposes.

They simulated the effects of this leakage on the forecasting of the ‘2008 Super Tuesday tornado outbreak’, in which 87 whirlwinds were generated over a 15-hour period, with many hitting populated areas in Jackson, Memphis, and Nashville.

The researchers found that the signals from the 5G frequency range have the potential to bleed out into the neighbouring bands used by the sensors on weather satellites to measure the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere.

This data is used by meteorologists to make weather forecasts, and so the leakage has the potential to upset their predictions.

Meanwhile, in another report by Nokia, the Finland-based technology firm, revealed that 5G has the potential of adding $8trillion to global GDP by 2030.

The COVID-19 pandemic is forecast to further increase the value creation potential of 5G in the medium and long-term by accelerating digitization, particularly among the least digitally advanced industries.

The report also highlights a clear correlation between 5G deployment and business performance. Companies at an advanced level of 5G adoption were the only group to experience a net increase in productivity (+10%) following COVID-19, and the only group able to maintain or increase customer engagement during the pandemic.

Furthermore, 5G mature companies are also growing considerably faster than their peers: 49 per cent of companies in the expansion phase and 37 per cent in the implementation phase – representing the two most advanced stages of 5G maturity – achieved rapid growth last year, compared with 20 per cent in the planning, 11 per cent in discovery and five per cent in passive phases.

These findings show that the companies who are most 5G mature, and therefore likely also the most advanced in their overall digital transformation, are showing the highest impact in business performance.

Despite the economic challenges of COVID-19, a global boom in 5G investment will see 72 per cent of large companies invest in 5G over the next five years. The report forecasts a rapid uptick in investment over the next three years as enterprises seek to expedite digitalization. A third of companies across all regions fear being outpaced by the competition should they not invest in 5G within the next three years.

Nokia’s 5G Business Readiness Model revealed that across eight economies – Australia, Germany, Finland, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the UK and the US – 50 per cent of companies are at the midway level on 5G readiness, between initial planning, trials and deployment, compared to just seven per cent that are classed as 5G mature.

The report noted however those significant geographic variations exist; while 13 per cent of organizations in Saudi Arabia, and 12 per cent in the United States rated as 5G mature, fewer than one in 20 were classed as such in Germany (three per cent), Finland (two per cent) and the UK (four per cent).

While many organizations are at the Implementation stage, for most this still means trials, pilots or early stage deployments such as 5G mobile phones or limited 5G connectivity for fleet services or rural locations. Few have yet to realize the true breadth, depth and potential of 5G.

On average, whilst the importance of 5G adoption is well understood, a significant investment gap remains. 86 per cent of decision makers said they have some kind of strategy for 5G, and over a third fear being outpaced by the competition should they not invest in 5G in the next three years. However, only 15 per cent are currently investing in its implementation, and over 29 per cent of businesses are not planning any 5G investment in the next five years.

Chief Strategy Officer at Nokia, Gabriela Styf Sjöman, said: “As organizations across the world move faster towards deployment of 5G enabled technologies, those who wish to be the first to leverage its potential cannot afford to lose more time. To capture the tremendous opportunities of 5G, organizations must start or intensify their planning now and accelerate business model innovation to remain competitive in a rapidly digitalizing global economy. Beyond investment in the technology itself, this will require digitalizing operations, processes and ways of working to capture the full potential of 5G.”

“5G adoption is categorically shown to fuel business success. Organizations that have integrated 5G stand to benefit from advantages that go way beyond faster, more efficient and reliable network services. As 5G enables businesses to transform, it will also accelerate wider technological and economic trends, with unimaginable possibilities for global economies and societies. The cities, hospitals and factories of the future depend on 5G and the unparalleled ability it offers to move processes and store vast volumes of data. Moreover, the biggest challenges we face as a society – from climate change to the pandemic – can be better tackled through at-scale use of the data and technologies that 5G will unleash.”


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