Feeds

Ofcom tailgates Google with radio usage map

Sussing out the spectrum

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Ofcom is responsible for managing radio spectrum in the UK, but it's hard to do that when you don't know who's doing what and where. So by the end of 2008 a fleet of vehicles touring the country will finish doing for radio spectrum what Google is doing for street views.

Ofcom already monitors radio usage, with around 40 analysers based in city centres, but these only monitor spectrum below 1GHz and are obviously limited in coverage. Beyond that, Ofcom is still reliant on members of the public noticing and complaining about unlicensed spectrum usage.

Complaining about pirate radio is just a matter of letting Ofcom know - if it's in the FM band the watchdog will respond with raids and prosecutions. Ofcom even has a new leaflet (pdf) out today, warning that pirate radio operators may even carry knives, when they're not dealing drugs or assaulting one other.

But once you get into the higher frequencies you'll need to complain loudly about "spectrum abuse". If you're lucky, Ofcom will send out someone to analyse the interference and may even send a letter to the person responsible.

A good example of this is the raft of problems caused by home data-over-powerline devices, which generate all sorts of interference to such an extent that a support group exists for those affected, complete with a video to help people identify the problem.

Finding out if there's a problem isn't easy - interference is more likely to be blamed on faulty transmitters or receivers. And while Ofcom knows who should be allowed to broadcast at what frequency and where, no one knows how many people are using spectrum illegally - knowingly or otherwise.

According to PolicyTracker, Ofcom was working with QinetiQ to develop a nationwide monitoring system, but spiralling costs made the project unfeasible. So now the regulator has turned to a company called Cambridge Radio Frequency Services (CRFS), which has kit that can be vehicle-mounted to build up a picture of national radio usage.

Rather than creating a fleet of vehicles Ofcom has done a deal with a company to fit the CRFS kit (picture) into roof racks on the cars driven by their sales staff (30 of them), and expects to have most of the country covered by the end of the year.

Quite what they'll find we don't know - whether unplanned interference of the kind generated by home electronics is a widespread problem, or perhaps everyone is playing nicely and spectrum is already being used to the greatest possible efficiency. But if the process works and Ofcom chooses to share the data then you might be able to see more than just blurred faces on the next generation of Street View. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
PwC says US biz lagging in Internet of Things
Grass is greener in Asia, say the sensors
Ofcom sees RISE OF THE MACHINE-to-machine cell comms
Study spots 9% growth in IoT m2m mobile data connections
O2 vs Vodafone: Mobe firms grab for GCHQ, gov.uk security badge
No, the spooks love US best, say rival firms
Ancient pager tech SMS: It works, it's fab, but wow, get a load of that incoming SPAM
Networks' main issue: they don't know how it works, says expert
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.