Earlier this week, Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Maria Cantwell, D.-Wash., wrote to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to not allow wireless companies to run in a 24 GHz band until weather forecasting is protected.

The FCC began auctioning 24 GHz band in March for use in 5G networks, but the band runs adjacent to spectrum bands that are used for weather operations. The Navy has also expressed concern about protections for weather forecasting in a March 27 brief that Sens. Wyden and Cantwell made public.

“To continue down the path the FCC is currently on, to continue to ignore the serious alarms the scientific community is raising, could lead to dangerous impacts to American national security, to American industries, and to the American people,” the senators wrote.

The senators also urged the FCC to refrain from awarding winning bidders for future commercial broadband use in the 24 GHz spectrum any final licenses until the FCC approves passive band protection limits determined necessary “to protect critical satellite-based measurements of atmospheric water vapor needed to forecast the weather” by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Sens. Wyden and Cantwell also requested information by June 11 on:

  • Supporting evidence to support the FCC’s emissions limits rule from future commercial broadband transmissions in the 24GHz band;
  • Explain pathway for FCC is the International Telecommunications Union refuses to accept the advocated level on emissions limits;
  • Explain the reconciliation process to resolve the issue between the FCC and NASA/NOAA; and
  • Provide evidence to the FCC’s public interest analysis
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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.