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Ofcom steps up the power for unlicensed broadcasting

But only for those topping 10GHz

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

UK regulator Ofcom has published a consultation on increasing the limits on broadcasting above 10GHz, claiming that at such high frequencies the range is so small it's not going to bother anyone anyway.

Currently the caps on licence-exempt usage only go up to 10.6GHz, and generally increase with the frequency. The new proposal from Ofcom continues this, pointing out that as the frequency rises the range drops, so the potential for interference decreases and the transmission power can safely be increased.

This is like marking out building zones in Death Valley on the basis that someone might want to live there one day; but then without similar foresight New York wouldn't have Central Park, so sometimes it pays to think ahead.

The only people likely to be interested in such high frequencies for the foreseeable future are the Ultra Wideband (UWB) crowd, as they've no interested in penetrating walls or being able to transmit more than a few meters. But even UWB is struggling to get above 6GHz, as required by the Bluetooth variant, so there's no immediate urgency in Ofcom's regulation.

The only people hanging around at such high frequencies these days are radio telescopes and satellite communications, so an UWB-enabled set-top box operating at this level could in theory impact your Sky reception. But the chances of the UWB signal getting through the walls of a house to where the Sky dish is located are pretty small, so it shouldn't be an issue.

Those who think it might, or other interested parties, are invited to comment before the end of October. ®

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