Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas). Credit: Courtesy of Rep. Johnson
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas). Credit: Courtesy of Rep. Johnson

SAN FRANCISCO – Leaders of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and three House Appropriations subcommittees are calling on the FCC to delay the auction of 5G radio frequency spectrum scheduled for March 14 due to concern about interference with space-based weather sensors.

“Given the frequency spectrum being considered, and at the FCC’s suggested noise limits, there is the potential for signal interference with Earth observation sensors for weather and climate forecasting which operate at adjacent spectrum frequencies,” Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), House Science Committee chair, and Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), said in a March 13 letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “We are therefore asking you to delay the auction of 5G spectrum until [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration], NASA and the DoD have been adequately consulted and their concerns have been addressed.”

The FCC is preparing to auction 2,909 licenses in the 24.25 to 25.25 GHz bands of the electromagnetic spectrum on March 14. Meteorologists are concerned the proliferation of 5G signals in those bands will interfere with dozens of passive microwave sensors on satellites that gather data on atmospheric water vapor in the 23.6 to 24 GHz band.

“As appropriators, we are highly concerned about the potential impact on the federal investment of billions of dollars in our satellite fleet, which is designed to support our defense apparatus and provide lifesaving weather data,” chairs of the House Appropriations financial services, defense and commerce subcommittees said in a March 13 letter to Pai. “We believe that there is significant risk that aggregate 5G signals under the current FCC rules for this band will mask natural radiation that provides important inputs…