Weather News

Bureau of Meteorology impacted by internet service providers' move to wireless frequency

By Jonathan Hair, Wednesday May 16, 2018 - 16:41 EST
ABC licensed image
Dr Bialkowski says the changes could cause extremes such as storms appearing on the radar, even if they do not exist. - ABC licensed

The Bureau of Meteorology's (BOM) ability to accurately measure the weather could be affected by plans to move some wireless internet service providers onto its radar frequency.



The BOM has warned that changes to the radio frequency it operates on, the 5.6GHz band, could cause problems with its radar system's range, resolution, and measurement accuracy.

Dr Konstanty Bialkowski, an expert on radar systems from the University of Queensland, said the 5.6GHz was good at interactions with water content.

"In terms of reflectivity and water absorption, and because of that it's able to detect rain particles and rain and things like that," he said.

The new 5G mobile network needs a frequency band to operate on, and the Federal Government is planning to auction off parts of the 3.6GHz band for it in October.

But already using that band are a number of wireless internet service providers, which need a new home.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has proposed moving them to the 5.6GHz band, which is already used by the BOM.

In a statement the BOM said it was working with ACMA to resolve any potential issues of interference.

Dr Bialkowski said interference came into play because of "leakage".

"The issue is that signals, when they operate in a band, also have a leakage in an adjacent spectrum," he said.

"The leakage occurs because when we create a signal, it actually has a very wide spectrum, and we use filters to limit the out of band signals which occur.

"You can never get that down to zero, it always will exist.

"That signal, although it is not that strong compared to a signal of interest, is actually quite strong compared to the level of signal expected from far away rain particles."

Dr Bialkowski said it could be as extreme as storms appearing on the radar, even if they did not exist.

"Effectively it could look like a false return, so maybe rain occurring where the operator is actually using their antenna," he said.

"And it could be a very strong one, which would give a very false impression that some sort of storm was occurring where in reality nothing was actually occurring there at all."


- ABC

© ABC 2018

More breaking news

Sydney Morning Herald
ABC News
National Nine News
News Limited

Display Your Local Weather

Weather News

Satellite images question how private dams filled during Murray-Darling pumping embargo

21:00 EDT

A number of farmers will be investigated after satellite imaging showed their dams, in drought-ravaged parts of New South Wales, were filled during a pumping embargo in parts of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Tropical cyclone names this season

14:18 EDT

Australia's 2019/20 tropical cyclone season officially starts in two weeks.

Galiwin'ku residents allocated housing shelter years after Cyclone Lam's havoc

12:36 EDT

Almost five years after the Arnhem Land community of Galiwin'ku was battered by Cyclone Lam, the NT Government is yet to spend $20.3 million of disaster relief funding for rebuilding housing.