Wireless bonanza

The news that Ofcom hopes to sell off a big chunk of radio spectrum could herald some interesting times for the technological development of our mobile devices.


On Monday, the telecoms operator announced proposals for the UK’s largest single release of radio spectrum. These plans, part of a wider programme to release around 400MHz of prime spectrum over the next few years, are designed to create opportunities for innovation and competition in wireless services, and are expected to stimulate the growth of new services such as mobile broadband.


According to Ofcom’s chief executive Ed Richards, ‘releasing more spectrum to the market will create new opportunities for innovation in wireless technologies, promoting competition and driving convergence.’


Ofcom has already identified a number of potential uses of the spectrum, mainly based on technologies such as WiMAX – which could provide broadband wireless access across large areas, and UMTS, the so called 3rd generation mobile communications system. These applications could include mobile broadband wireless services, mobile television; and mobile broadcasting, using wireless cameras for outside broadcasts and temporary or portable video links.


For our handheld devices, this is likely to lead to a greater convergence of functions. We are already seeing mobile phones with very high quality cameras and MP3 players, but if Ofcom’s proposals come to fruition they could pave the way for a new generation of devices that really start exploiting the many advantages of wirelessness. And while this will be good for the consumer, it also represents a great opportunity for the UK’s engineers and designers to get working on the products that will fill this rapidly emerging niche.



Jon Excell


Features Editor

The Engineer