Feeds

Ofcom lays out wireless roadmap

Planes, trains and automobiles

Ofcom's annual research report, this year entitled The Wireless World of Tomorrow, focuses on how wireless technologies might change the transport and healthcare landscapes over the next 20 years.

Public transport, in particular, is expected to benefit from wireless technologies - though much of the innovation Ofcom expects to see is outside its immediate remit.

Inter-modality is considered key, with wireless tickets working on buses, trains and underground in the way that London's Oyster card already does. However, integration will extend to timetables and vehicle locations.

Ofcom predicts that within 20 years you'll board a bus which knows what train you're planning to catch and can alert your mobile that you're not going to make it. Fun stuff, but very little to do with spectrum management, which is Ofcom's remit.

Trains will need more spectrum, though their immediate needs will be met by GSM-R, the variant of GSM suited to railway use, which is to complete deployment by 2012. Initially, GSM-R will provide driver and track-side communications, but it's also designed to take care of signalling and points control.

But what train lines really want is Moving Block Operation, as proposed by the European Railway Traffic Management System (ERTMS), where the position of every train is known at all times and trains just avoid each other rather than having exclusive use of a specific section of track. Ofcom thinks that's going to need more spectrum, ideally something below 1GHz so it has enough range to be easily deployed.

Once National Rail finds some spectrum to buy on the open market, it's expected to use it for everything from reporting back train locations to monitoring the condition of the track.

The open market is also where rail companies are going to have to find higher frequencies to offer Wi-Fi and the like to passengers. Some lines already use WiMAX as a back-haul, connecting on-train hotspots to track-side relays, and Ofcom expects to see a lot more of that - but isn't going to hand over any spectrum to facilitate it.

Aircraft might get some spectrum allocated to them, though not for a while as satellite connections are expected to be good enough until around 2024 when the military should have gotten round to giving up some spectrum in the 9-10GHz region.

Before then, narrower VHF bands will provide more efficient usage, and video connections are expected to allow air-traffic controllers to watch terrorists taking control of planes as it happens.

For non-terrorists, travelling by air will be much easier thanks to e-tickets and millimetre-wave scanners, and cock ups like Terminal 5 will (apparently) be completely avoided by embedding RFID tags in all new suitcases.

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.