London calling: UK regulator creates new IoT spectrum license

British communications regulator Ofcom has announced plans to create a new spectrum license for Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.

The license will use very high frequency (VHF) bands, including 55-68MHz, 70.5-71.5MHz, and 80.5-81.5MHz, according to Computing.co.uk. These bands are typically used for audio purposes and are usually quite cheap compared to low-frequency bands favored by LTE mobile carriers.

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Ofcom published a consultation in September last year to figure out if these VHF bands were suitable for IoT and M2M networks, and concluded earlier this month that the bands were suitable.

Some of the VHF bands are connected to existing Business Radio license products, which will be discontinued in favor of opening the spectrum to IoT and M2M investment. The use of these bands for IoT will not affect any other networks, Ofcom said.

Ofcom also plans to launch a dedicated webpage for anyone looking to use the spectrum for IoT or M2M applications. The webpage will feature information and guides, alongside contact details.

Spectrum license a good sign of future UK investment

The UK government announced in the 2015 budget a USD$14 million grant for an Internet of Things think-tank, alongside investments into automation, drones, and other new technology. It has also removed regulations surrounding these new types of technology, which has made the UK a hotspot for new developer and engineering firms.

Getting more spectrum is always a good sign for an emerging industry, especially one like IoT, which requires a decent amount of Internet capacity to make everything work.

The growth of IoT and M2M in the next few years will be huge, according to Gartner and IDC that project over 26 billion smart devices in the year 2020. For those smart devices to all communicate together without delay, we’ll need a lot of network space, which the UK government seems happy to give.

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