Within the telecommunication industry we are aware of some of the external problems that can affect our last mile access networks. During my 16 years working in these circles, I’ve witnessed everything from DSL slowing down due to frost, to a wireless networks poor performance being blamed on the heat.
Interestingly, it looks like researchers in the Netherlands have figured out a way to use weather associated network problems to monitor the weather itself! In this instance; using mobile phone signal power loss to map rainfall patterns. To me personally, I already monitor the rain in real time by stepping outside. However if it means the weather forecasters can watch a rain front travel across the country, and then give me a warning about it, all the better.
The system uses the attenuation (power) differences through the mobile networks. They cross referenced their information with weather stations across the country and realised there was a correlation. Off the back of that they can see the fronts; as they aim for the most inappropriate place on land to dump their contents.
We will see if O2, EE or Vodafone develop into weather forecasting companies in the near future.