Ofcom gives go-ahead to ultrawideband

The long-awaited wireless tech can be used in the UK without a licence from Monday, enabling low-power, high-bandwidth home communications

Home-communications devices using ultrawideband wireless technology can be used without a licence from Monday.

Ultrawideband (UWB) enables devices, such as PCs and DVD players, to communicate without wires at high speed and low cost over short distances, promising the eventual elimination of cabled interconnection for high-definition video and other digital media.

UWB connects devices at up to 2Gbps and with a theoretical range of about 30 metres by spreading an extremely low-power signal across a very wide range of frequencies. This combination allows UWB to reuse frequencies already allocated to other radio technologies without causing or receiving interference.

Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, has estimated that, if it regulates correctly, UWB will provide £4bn in value to the UK over the next 15 years.

The technology has been a long time coming. Despite having been available in the US previously, the initial go-ahead this side of the Atlantic was only given by the European Commission in February.

The European Commission's decision needed further ratification from Ofcom before UWB devices could be used in the UK.

Ed Richards, Ofcom's chief executive, said: "Where possible, we want to remove restrictions on the use of spectrum to allow the market to develop new and innovative services — such as UWB — for the benefit of consumers."


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