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Ofcom announces UK IoT strategy

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Ofcom has announced it is putting in place a strategy to ensure the UK has a leading role in the development of the internet of things. The competition authority said by working together with the industry and government it wants to create a “regulatory environment” that promotes investment and innovation in the IoT space.

According to Ofcom, there are currently some 40 million connected devices in the UK alone with the number only set to increase. It also supporting IoT development is important as it potentially effect virtually every industry, as well as consumers.

Although the plans didn’t seem to contain anything revolutionary or what the regulator isn’t already doing, Ofcom outlined four key areas for its IoT 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.

Ofcom was keen to point out what it has so far done in respect of the spectrum availability to IoT, saying it last year made frequencies available in the 870/915 MHz bands and liberalised licence conditions for exist9ing mobile frequencies. It also said some connected devices could use the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands, which are currently used for wifi (as well as other services). But the regulator admitted there could be further spectrum requirements in the future, especially in bands below 1 GHz.

Ofcom claimed this strategy is needed to ensure there are no barriers to IoT development in the UK as the number of connected devices is expected to grow to 50 billion globally by 2020.

“The Internet of Things will bring benefits to a range of sectors and could change the way we live our lives,” Steve Unger, Ofcom’s Acting CEO said. “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.”

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