The UK telecom regulator, OfCom, just launched a consultation on the potential allocation of spectrum to foster investments in the Internet of Things (IoT).

Telecom regulators’ position on the IoT

The UK and the Italian telecom regulators have run thorough reviews of the issues affecting IoT technologies by means of consultations during the last months.  Indeed, OfCom published its report on the Internet of Things just around the same time as the report from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), while the Italian telecom regulator, AgCom, focused on regulatory issues affecting Machine to Machine (M2M) communications as part of its report.

Both Ofcom and AgCom’s reports had addressed the issue relating to the availability of the spectrum and the potential need to allocate a band of the spectrum to IoT communications.  At that time this move did not appear necessary, but apparently the scenario might quickly change.

The OfCom consultation on the radio spectrum for IoT

OfCom now launched a consultation aimed at encouraging investment and innovation in the IoT by using 10 MHz of existing spectrum for new applications.  The goal is to use 10 MHz of spectrum for wireless connections over long distances.

This type of spectrum might be quite useful for users in coastal or rural parts of the UK and its applications might be in the agricultural sector through for instance networking farm equipment and livestock, environmental sensing and other maritime applications, including fish farming.

Is this initiative part of IoTUK?

It might be a coincidence, but Ofcom’s initiative occurs just when the IoTUK program has been announced. IoTUK is a national program launched by the British Government with the purpose to amplify the UK’s IoT capability through £40m investments in IoT.

And it seems that all the major Governments are adopting plans to foster the IoT since also the Italian Government has just launched a new investment plan for EUR 2.2 bn in a number of innovative sectors including the IoT. And not only the Italian telecom regulator, but also the Italian privacy regulator is currently running a consultation on how to regulate the Internet of Things.

We will see whether such initiatives will really lead to a major growth of the IoT.