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Ofcom clears decks for WirelessHD

Wi-Fi Friday imminent

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UK regulator Ofcom is removing the licence restrictions on intra-home video links knocking 66GHz, as well as allowing the use of automated level measuring and precise positioning though radio technologies.

The decisions come into force on Friday (17 July) following an earlier consultation which produced only three responses. They bring the UK into line with Europe on very short range devices such as the high-frequency video links espoused by the WirelessHD Consortium, as well as equipment for monitoring the level of liquid in tanks and movement in buildings and structures.

For linking video around the home, to a range of about 10 metres, 57-66GHz has been declared licence-free - which, being 9GHz wide, compares well to the allocation in Japan and the USA (7GHz each, but in slightly different bands). At that frequency wall penetration is going to be out for everything but the flimsiest structures, so think set-top-box-to-TV-screen rather than anything more interesting.

The power of video sending is the only thing that excited any significant responses: two of the three responses just shrugged that the proposals were rather good (one from Intel, the other strangely anonymous). The third, from Huber + Suhner, suggests that separate power levels for indoors and outdoors are unenforceable and should be reconsidered, but Ofcom reworded the regulations instead.

Tank Level Probing Radar will be allowed in quite a few bands, and at reasonable power, but only if installed within a metallic or reinforced concrete tank: which should reduce local interference. We can only hope they work better than the wirelessly-connected sonar-based level indicators for domestic oil, quickly replaced with a long stick in our experience.

Radiodetermination will be allowed across the Wi-Fi bands (around 2.4GHz) as well as up at 17GHz, the technology is used to measure movement in buildings and structures, for tracking or safety applications.

The statement (PDF) also covers some exemptions for in-flight wireless use, including video distribution in the Wi-Fi spectrum; though the power levels being permitted make interference from there unlikely, and the removal of licence restrictions is (almost) always to be applauded. ®

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