London 2012 Olympics to Create Record Demand for Wireless Spectrum
Demand from wireless technologies that will help ensure the smooth running of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will more than double within London during the seven week event, according to analysis by Ofcom.
The sporting event presents a unique logistical challenge never faced before by the UK, with a need to assign up to 20,000 wireless frequencies to be used for the Games in London, more than double the number usually assigned in a year.
Demand will be fuelled by the increasing use of wireless technologies by broadcasters, such as wireless cameras and wireless microphones. The extensive use of walkie-talkies by the organisers, talkback systems for broadcasters, timing and scoring systems and sports commentary systems for the audience, will also be essential for the organisation of the Games.
However, spectrum within London is already being used at full capacity for many applications that will be used at the London 2012 Games.
To meet the extra demands of broadcasters, media and the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) during Games time, Ofcom has developed a plan to secure additional capacity.
This will be achieved in four main ways:
- By borrowing spectrum on a short-term basis from public sector bodies, such as the Ministry of Defence
- Ensuring that civil spectrum is used efficiently by making unused frequencies available. An example of this is spectrum that will shortly be auctioned by Ofcom, but is currently not being used
- Making use of spectrum freed up by the digital switchover
- Using spectrum that is available without the need for a licence
In preparation for the increased demand for spectrum during the Games, Ofcom has been running a series of test events during 2011 and 2012.
Because there is only a limited supply of spectrum, it is important that it is both efficiently used and carefully allocated to ensure that interference is minimised. To make sure this happens, Ofcom has built a spectrum assignment system that will carefully manage access to spectrum, keeping it both free for those who need it and free of interference.
In addition, a sensor network has also been built across the country to identify any interference issues before they arise.
Also Ofcom sais that it will be deploying an especially large team of radio engineers to track down and deal with any cases of interference that do occur. Ofcom is supplementing its field engineering team with colleagues from other European countries.
Ofcom's Chief Operating Officer, Jill Ainscough, said: "The UK's airwaves are already among the most intensively used in the world. The London 2012 Games will significantly increase demand.
"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."