Ofcom exempts road users
But only if they're saving lives
Ofcom has proposed that intelligent traffic radio systems be licence-exempt, but initially only where it improves the the safety of the driving experience.
The EU has already mandated that 30MHz of spectrum, between 5875 and 5905MHz, be reserved for Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), but while Viviane Reding seems to think ITS will magically disperse traffic jams Ofcom is only planning to allow safety applications to use the spectrum without a licence, at least initially.
The full proposal (pdf) includes a list of 19 possible applications, as examples of what the regulator considers to be "safety-related". These include collision warnings, notice of approaching emergency vehicles, and automatically dipping headlights. Slightly harder to understand are in-vehicle signage and stop-sign indication: which would seem to be redundant if one has a car with windows, as is most popularly the case.
The regulator also notes that ITS deployments are going to have to work nicely together, but quite how that can be ensured isn't clear. Manufacturers of cars, and street signs, across Europe are going to have to work together to ensure not just interoperability but consistent functionality, without any regulatory framework to force them to do so - otherwise the 30MHz of bandwidth available could quickly fill up and we'd have to fall back on using our eyes to see what lies ahead.®
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