There is a technological solution to the problem in the pipeline - 802.11ad, a next-gen wireless standard that uses 60GHz frequencies to send and receive information, instead of the usual 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. At 60GHz, according to Beaudet, radio energy essentially just bounces off the atmosphere - meaning that the frequency is useless to the Green Bank Telescope in the first place. Signals to and from 802.11ad access points, then, would have no effect on the work taking place at the GBT, allowing for the best of both worlds.
Unfortunately, 802.11ad is very much a technology of the future, not of the present - experts at an Interop New York panel last year predicted that devices using the standard wouldn't hit the market until 2014.
The issue could be moot just three years after that, however - a report from the National Science Foundation recommended that the group pull funding for the GBT by 2017. Naturally, however, this is an ideal solution for neither party.
Beaudet emphasized that it's far from certain that the GBT will be shutting down.
"We are currently seeking other sponsors for the instrument, and other arrangements with NSF. Everything is up in the air right now. But GBT is not the only instrument on the Green Bank site (just our main one). ... I don't think we're going away soon," she wrote.
For the moment, then, it's an apparently intractable problem - but one that both the school and the scientists are eager to solve.
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