Ofcom gives wireless USB the go-ahead

August 9, 2015

Media regulator Ofcom has changed its regulations to allow Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology to be used in consumer devices without a licence.

UWB is a radio technology which provides short-range high-bandwidth communications by using a large portion of the radio spectrum in a way that doesn’t interfere with narrow band usage.

Technologies that use radio spectrum usually require a licence for their use so that Ofcom can regulate any interference between spectrum users. However, as UWB equipment is low powered, it should not interfere with other spectrum users. UWB’s power consumption is significantly lower than other wireless connectivity technologies such as Wi-Fi.

Ofcom has now deregulated UWB through the introduction of the Wireless Telegraphy (Ultra Wideband Equipment Exemption) Regulations 2015. These will come into effect on 13 August, allowing approved UWB equipment to be manufactured and used without a license.

UWB enables up to 2Gbps of data to be transferred over distances of up to 30 metres. Its main use will be certified Wireless USB, which will allow peripheral devices such as digital cameras and mp3 players to be connected to a computer without the need for cables.

Ofcom’s decision is expected to lead to a host of Wireless USB products coming on to the UK market. UWB products are already being developed for the US and Japanese markets.

The UK regulator’s decision will help to facilitate a common set of UWB technical standards across Europe and other EU members are expected to introduce similar legislation in the coming months.


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