Ofcom announces strategy to promote IoT

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/Oinegue)

The UK's telecommunications regulator, Ofcom, has announced its plans for ensuring the country is leading the way for the Internet of Things. It aims to achieve this by working with the industry and government to create a true regulatory environment which promotes investment and innovation to push the use of connected devices forward.

Steve Unger, Acting Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “The Internet of Things will bring benefits to a range of sectors and could change the way we live our lives. As a result of this growth, we have listened closely to industry and want to develop a framework for this technology to evolve in a way which will ultimately benefit citizens and consumers.”

It makes sense for the government to back Ofcom's plans due to the significant economic benefits the Internet of Things is set to herald. This is due, mostly, to sensors which allow more efficient use of existing technologies such as parking meters and street lighting.

Over 40 million connected devices are being used in the UK, a number which is set to increase at a rapid rate.

Santander, a "Smart City" in Spain, is leading the way in showing the rest of Europe the possibilities of the IoT thanks to collaboration with a huge list of partners including; Telefónica, Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, and a variety of universities. The entire city is laden with "IoT Nodes" to provide sensors for detecting temperature, CO2, noise, light, car presence, and more.

"Repeaters" are placed in objects high-above ground to transfer data from the nodes using the 802.15.4 protocol. This data is transferred to "Gateways" whereby the data can be stored, or broadcast and accessed using standards such as WiFi, GPRS/UMTS, or Ethernet. Researchers and developers have used this information for a variety of experiments including the ability to reduce travel times through guiding citizens of the fastest way to get to their destination...

This sounds similar to existing traffic data, but the SmartSantander initiative points out: "Existing traffic data is static, in that it only reports on the number of vehicles going through a checkpoint (where a sensor detects the vehicles) at the current time; they cannot measure the number of vehicles in other streets where there are not any traffic sensors."

Ofcom will want to promote Santander-like experimentation and innovation in the UK. Despite not announcing anything about what the regulator is doing in particular, four key areas of focus were outlined for its strategy; continuous monitoring of spectrum requirements, ensuring data privacy issues receive due consideration, network security and resilience, and network addressing including continuing support for IPv6 connectivity.

Over 40 million connected devices are being used in the UK, a number which is set to increase at a rapid rate. Developer interest is also high, as our sister-site DeveloperTech reports that one-in-five developers are now targeting the Internet of Things for their upcoming projects.

In terms of spectrum, Ofcom has been working hard to allocate frequencies for IoT usage. Last year it allowed the use of frequencies in the 870/915 MHz bands to help promote testing, and also said connected devices could use 2.4 and 5 GHz bands which are in-use for public WiFi.

What do you think about Ofcom's IoT strategy? Let us know in the comments.

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1 Feb 2015, 3:04 p.m.

There is a company called Cyan holdings of Cambridge who can do the job on lower frequencies. The system is capable of m2m gprs at a good price. Almost perfect as can do end-to-end and is starting a contract for Enzen in India. Well worth looking at.