Ofcom seeks to usher in new wireless services

Removing red tape surrounding new devices

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Ofcom wants to remove red tape surrounding low power devices that transmit radio waves, such as digital cameras or iPod transmitters. The regulator is proposing more open uses of radio spectrum, "open[ing] up high-frequency bands for new and innovative applications."

The proposed Licence-Exemption Framework Review - ongoing until 21 June - also suggests removing the need to hold a licence to use the largely unclaimed higher frequency bands (particularly above 100 GHz) and providing more flexible regulations for new devices.

Ofcom points out that there are already "hundreds of wireless devices" that can be used without a licence, including wireless headphones, car key fobs and, of course, Wi-Fi kit, under the regulation of the IEEE standards.

In late 2004, Ofcom published its Spectrum Framework Review. The document stated that the regulator would enable market forces to "play a greater role in determining how spectrum is used". Essentially, this means that there has to be a pretty decent reason why, within reason, low powered radio devices and services can't be allowed.

This new flexible approach was shown last year, when the regulator legalised the use of short-distance radio devices, iPod transmitters such as Griffin 's iTrip and Belkin 's TuneCast

Ofcom is required under the Communications Act 2003 to promote optimal use of spectrum "in the interest of consumers and citizens."