Ofcom unveils Olympics spectrum sharing plans


Public sector bodies in London are to relinquish some of their spectrum in order to support capacity demands for the Olympics.

Ofcom today revealed organisations, including the Ministry of Defence, will loan out their spectrum on a short-term basis to cater for the massive bandwidth demands the Olympics will bring.

Spectrum freed up by the switchover to digital TV will also be used, the regulator said.

The 2012 Olympic Games will require up to 20,000 separate wireless frequency assignments, more than double the number usually needed in a whole year, Ofcom said.

We are working behind the scenes to make this capacity available, to ensure that this demand is met.

The smooth running of coverage of the Games will need plenty of spectrum. Alongside a massive amount of mobile phone and tablet use during the event, wireless cameras and microphones, walkie-talkies, timing and scoring systems as well as sports commentary technologies will all soak up bandwidth.

"The UK's airwaves are already among the most intensively used in the world. The London 2012 Games will significantly increase demand," said Ofcom's chief operating officer Jill Ainscough. "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."

Ofcom has also designed a spectrum assignment system to ensure interference is kept to a minimum by carefully managing who is using what spectrum.

A sensor network covering the entire country has been built to identify any potential interference issues.

Ofcom has employed a sizeable team of engineers to deal with any interference too.

Ofcom is preparing for a busy year. The regulator is currently in the process of consulting with telecoms firms over the 4G auction, scheduled to take place at the end of the year.

Read on for IT Pro's report from behind the scenes at the Olympic IT control centre.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.