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Ofcom to Borrow Wireless Spectrum for London Olympics

January 23, 2012


Anticipating high demand of mobile services during this summer's Olympic games in London, Ofcom, the United Kingdom's independent communications regulator, has announced it will borrow wireless spectrum from other public agencies in the summer, including the Ministry of Defence.

Ofcom will use around 20,000 wireless frequencies during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, which are scheduled from July 27 to Aug. 12. Ofcom will take advantage of frequencies that have become available after the U.K. switched to digital technology for cell phone communication. The agency will also use frequencies slated for an auction of 4G spectrum that won't be used for the Olympics. If any problems arise, they will deploy a team of engineers to troubleshoot and eliminate any network issues. The advantage of using this spectrum is that there is no need for licensing these frequencies.

“'The UK’s airwaves are already among the most intensively used in the world,” Ofcom chief operating officer Jill Ainscough said. “The London 2012 Games will significantly increase demand. Ready and prepared for this challenge, Ofcom recognises that there is no room for complacency. We are working behind the scenes to make this capacity available, to ensure that this demand is met.”

The games not only bring athletes and media, but also the need for lots of wireless communication along with them, including wireless cameras, microphones and walkie-talkie systems, not to mention the mobile devices fans and journalists will no doubt bring, from the opening to the closing ceremonies. Any breakdown in connectivity will be unacceptable, which appears to be the reason Ofcom is asking for so much bandwidth.

Other events that Ofcom has used to gauge demand for wireless frequencies are the recent Royal Wedding and the Silverstone Grand Prix.

The amount of spectrum that will be used for the games shows how indispensible and mainstream wireless technologies have become in recent years.

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David Delony is a Bay Area expatriate living in Ashland, Oregon. He combines his lifelong love of both words and technology in his career as a freelance writer. David holds a B.A. in communication from California State University, East Bay.

Edited by Rich Steeves