Ofcom starts planning for the London Olympics

Grab yourself a slice of free spectrum

UK regulator Ofcom has published a discussion document outlining how it intends to manage spectrum allocations during the London Olympics and Para Olympics in 2012, and on most cases it's business as usual.

Ofcom admits there'll be an unprecedented demand for radio frequencies during the games, for everything from wireless cameras to RFID tags, and acknowledges that previous games are of limited guidance as the demands for wireless capabilities increase with every year.

The consultation document gives off more than a smidgen of rancour at the fact that all this spectrum is to be given away free, as promised in the bidding process. This giveaway is to be strictly limited to event officials, sponsors, and the media: emergency services, security, and the military will have to find their own radio space to play in.

It seems unlikely there'll be enough frequencies to go round, and in the hope of more efficient use Ofcom intends to mandate digital walkie-talkies, and is asking if anyone thinks 2012 is too soon to start mandating digital wireless microphones too. It has also commissioned research into using much higher frequencies (up to 300GHz) for short-range wireless applications.

The purpose of the document is to try and establish how much frequency everyone would like, so the horse-trading can begin. Ofcom knows many potential users are tied up in Beijing at the moment, so is giving them until 22 February to comment on the proposals.

The last time London saw something like this was the opening of the Millennium Dome, which saw one frequency reserved for use by the three black helicopters circling with orders to block any attempt to laser-paint advertising on the inviting white surface. This time the demands will be much greater, but at least some people might be watching. ®

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