Ofcom Will Issue VHF Spectrum Licences For IoT

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Ofcom says VHF bands are suitable for IoT and will create a new business radio product later this year

Ofcom has declared that some VHF frequencies can be used for Internet of Things (IoT) and M2M applications and will create a new ‘business radio’ licence that makes specific reference to such use.

The regulator has been considering views from the industry about whether spectrum within the 55-68 MHz, 70.5-71.5 MHz and 80.0-81.5 MHz bands was suitable for such use and whether this would impact existing spectrum licence holders.

A consultation came to the conclusion that the spectrum is suitable and there is no evidence to suggest existing licences were inadequate, although it accepts that a misconception that Business Radio licences only be used to carry voice traffic.

Internet of Things

Radio, Wireless © Vladru Shutterstock 2012A new licence product will be issued later this year, but existing owners will be free to use their licences for IoT regardless.

Ofcom said it believed VHF frequencies would help stimulate IoT development in the UK, particularly in rural areas, but says the issue could be revisited as other forms of communications technology become more advanced and readily available.

“We do not agree with those stakeholders who say that the VHF bands are unsuitable for M2M applications,” said the regulator. “We note that our licence records show several companies already using the VHF bands for M2M-like applications.

“Overall, we think the VHF bands will be useful for M2M applications, but we also agree that the wider availability of superfast broadband, 5G and other wired and wireless technologies will change how valuable the VHF bands are for some M2M applications.

“Over time, therefore, the VHF bands could become less valuable for some M2M applications.

“We think that being able to use the VHF spectrum either in isolation – or used to play a complementary/supporting role to harmonised spectrum bands – could encourage investment and innovation in new services and applications including those for the IoT, especially for those in remote and rural locations.”

There are a number of technologies competing to connect the billions of ‘things’ to the IoT, including cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and proprietary technologies like SIGFOX.

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