Feeds

Ofcom sets out Olympic spectrum plan

Government asked to pay for it all

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

UK regulator Ofcom has laid out a consultation plan for radio spectrum use during the London Olympics in 2012, ensuring that even if the games fail to be spectacular, at least the coverage will be wireless.

Ofcom reckons there'll be more than 21,000 accredited media personages descending on London come July 2012, who will want 350 wireless mics, 75 simultaneous HD video streams - three of which will be in the air - and a fair proportion of the 781 talkback* channels the event is expected to use, with the UK government footing the bill at the calculated market rate for enough of the electromagnetic spectrum to carry it all.

And quite a swathe of spectrum it is too - promised for free as part of London's bid to run the games. Ofcom is ideologically opposed to handing spectrum over for free, so reckons the UK government is going to have to foot the bill based on AIP**. "We believe that, where fees for spectrum users at the London Games are waived under the Government guarantees, those fees should be met by the Government," it states.

But that spectrum still has to come from somewhere, and the Ministry of Defence is going to lend chunks of spectrum to supplement the bands that will become available thanks to the switching off of analogue TV three months prior to the games (April 2012). Other than that it's mainly stretching the normally-used bands to capacity and trying to encourage the use of wires.

Ofcom does have some ideas for reducing the bandwidth requirements at the event - the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) has signed a deal with Airwave, who run a private cellular network for the UK's emergency services, to provide communications for the event using their already-owned spectrum, and Ofcom is hoping many of the groups attending will make use of that deal for their own private radio requirements.

The regulator is also hoping users of cameras and other wireless kit can be convinced to use "free-space optics", or infrared as it's commonly known, optimistically pointing out: "These do not suffer from radio interference, do not require a licence to operate and can meet communications needs where certain microwave links are not allowed (e.g. near airports). We understand such technologies are also very quick to set up."

Question eight even explicitly asks if respondents would consider using such a thing, despite the fact that a video stream being sent over IR would be interrupted by bright sunlight or someone walking across the transmission path.

Another proposal from the regulator is to set up a network of high-frequency receiving sites around the venues, connected together with fibre optics and free to use. Broadcasters could use low-power and high frequency connections to attach their kit to the nearest site and then pull their stream out again elsewhere on the network. That's just an idea at the moment, and Ofcom is open to suggestions on the whole thing (pdf) until August 5.

Ofcom reads the government's commitment as being limited to providing spectrum for the games and mandatory ceremonies including opening and closing, but excluding any provision for emergency services, not to mention public service and transport - they'll have to buy their own spectrum, or just shout to each other.

The consultation contains only the smallest of nods to Boris' "hand-held devices" that are supposed to provide video replays to visitors - Ofcom notes that the Olympic Broadcast Services would like 8MHz of ex-analogue TV spectrum for transmitting video to punters within the venues, but makes no attempt to allocate such a thing beyond putting OBS in the "Non-guaranteed services" section.

The regulator is also having nothing to do with any "Olympic legacy" - once the Paralympics are over spectrum goes back to its owner, or to the auction block, post-haste. ®

Bootnotes

*Talkback is used for issuing instructions to performers, workers, etc.

**Administrated Incentive Pricing - Ofcom sticks a finger in the air to guess what a chunk of spectrum would be worth at auction, then charges that amount.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Mighty Blighty broadbanders beg: Let us lay cable in BT's, er, ducts
Complain to Ofcom that telco has 'effective monopoly'
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
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?