August 10, 2015
Ofcom has finally approved ultrawideband (UWB) radio technology and would prefer to see it unlicensed and with the minimum amount of regulations. UWB is a novel transmission system that combines very high speeds with very low power over short distances.
Ofcom considers that radio spectrum is an essential raw material in the development of converged communications services, and the removal of restrictions on the use of the spectrum will allow the market to develop new and innovative services.
It is expected to make its commercial debut in consumer equipment such as set-top boxes, high definition televisions, portable music systems and digital cameras without the need for wires. In addition, research has shown that devices that transfer data using UWB equipment use low power technologies, which can enhance battery life compared with other wireless technologies.
UWB equipment is already exempt from the need to hold a licence in the US and Japan, and technology companies have started to develop and sell UWB products like UWB home hubs for these markets.
UWB equipment will be made licence-exempt in the UK though the introduction of the Wireless Telegraphy (Ultra-Wideband Equipment) (Exemption) Regulations 2015, which will come into force on 13 August 2015.
Ofcom has participated in European negotiations to develop a common set of technical standards for UWB. Over the coming months, other EU members are expected to introduce the necessary legislation to allow approved UWB equipment to be used without a licence in their countries.
If correctly regulated, Ofcom estimates that UWB could provide £4bn in value to the UK over the next 15 years.