Ofcom sets out wireless technology future
May 9, 2022
By Colin Mann
UK communications regulator Ofcom has set out proposals to unlock new and innovative wireless technologies for everyday use – as well as making services faster, more reliable, and more secure.
First, it is consulting on changes to the rules that apply to Short-Range Devices (SRDs). Typically, these devices are mass-market, portable consumer-tech products and include keyless entry cards, baby monitors and garage door openers.
Under its proposals, Ofcom intends to increase the amount of spectrum available for SRD uses, including for road safety, low power Wi-Fi, and drones.
its plans also include liberalising the technical conditions for some Ultra-Wideband (UWB) devices for keyless car-entry systems. This will enable the use of a special mitigation technology called ‘trigger before transmit’, which, in turn, will make keyless entry systems more secure, and reduce the risk of opportunistic thefts, or ‘relay attacks’, where criminals intercept the key-fob signal.
Ofcom is also consulting on plans to open the millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum across the 26 GHz and 40 GHz spectrum bands to mobile technology, including 5G services.
mmWave spectrum could deliver significant benefits by enabling large wireless data capacity and speed over short distances. The technology can be used to improve mobile broadband services and deliver innovative new services across the UK.
It could be particularly beneficial in locations and venues with a lot of mobile users, such as train stations, football stadiums and concerts, where demands on current networks can mean mobile data speeds can be sluggish.
As well as mobile services, mmWave spectrum could, in future, also support innovative wireless applications requiring a large amount of data, very high speeds, or both. Early indications from the mobile industry suggest this could include applications such as virtual reality, factory automation, and intelligent transport systems.
Ofcom is seeking views on how to make the spectrum available. It is proposing to revoke fixed links licences in some areas and to make a combination of citywide and local licences available in the 26 GHz band. It also set out a range of options for the 40 GHz band, including to vary or revoke existing licences.
Ofcom is inviting responses to its SRD proposals by July 4th 2022 and its mmWave consultation by July 18th 2022.