London 2012 Olympics will see massive wireless spectrum consumption

Service providers are borrowing spectrum from UK’s defense department to meet expected demand

london olympic sites
The 2012 Olympic games in London are going to need a massive spectrum outlay - some 20,000 separate wireless frequency assignments which is more than double the number usually assigned in a year - to handle the expected communications requirements.

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Such demand is being fueled by all manner of wireless and broadband devices from wireless cameras and wireless microphones, to walkie-talkies, talkback systems for broadcasters, timing and scoring systems and sports commentary systems for the audience, according to Ofcom, the communications provider of the 2012 games in London.  The company says that with some 26,000 members of the world's media base themselves in London to cover the games, it will be the biggest media event in history.

Ofcom said it has developed a plan to secure additional capacity for the games that run from July 27  to Aug. 12 that includes;  

  • Borrowing spectrum on a short-term basis from public sector bodies, such as the Ministry of Defense
  • 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 London's move to digital channels. All analogue channels are due to be turned off on 18 April 18 as part of a move to digital transmissions.
  • Using spectrum that is available without the need for a license

Ofcom said it has built a state-of-the-art 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 modern sensor network has also been built across the country to identify any interference issues before they arise.

 Ofcom also will be deploying an especially large team of radio engineers to track down and deal with any cases of interference that do occur. The company is supplementing its field engineering team with expert colleagues from other European countries.

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