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French regulator consults on open spectrum for IoT

Prism spectrum

ARCEP, the French telecommunications regulator, has launched a public consultation into the use of open, unlicensed spectrum for a variety of unspecified short-range wireless communications that it anticipates will contribute to the IoT (Internet of Things) phenomenon.

As ever with these things, a public consultation is just the first phase in a long bureaucratic journey that may culminate in things being done. It is also an admission of the role of the regulator as facilitator rather than expert, hence the need to invite third-parties (in this context referred to as stakeholders) to inform the process.

These are the stated aims of the consultation:

  • To propose the ARCEP draft decision enabling the use of a wide array of open frequencies by short-range devices, notably through the transposition of a set of provisions that have been harmonised at the European level;
  • To deepen ARCEP’s forward-planning on the future use of and need for open spectrum, particular in view of the upcoming development of the Internet of Things.

In essence, ARCEP is saying it know IoT is going to be a big deal, but doesn’t really know what to do about it, so it would appreciate some top tips. The regulator cited a report by economics professor and former ARCEP commissioner Joëlle Toledano, on the need for spectrum sharing, as a pretext for this consultation.

The success of wifi, according to ARCEP, is at least partly down to “the simplicity of the regulatory framework governing the use of radio frequencies that are open to Wi-Fi, chiefly the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.” Tech companies operating in France will be hoping this precedent is maintained with this latest open spectrum initiative.

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Image: “Prism” by MarcellusWallace – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Prism.png#mediaviewer/File:Prism.png

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