Regulator: UK wireless demand to double during Olympics

Story highlights

  • Authorities plan to borrow spectrum from the Ministry of Defense
  • They also plan to use the 4G network before it's auctioned off
  • Members of the media are expected to be a big drain on resources
British authorities said Monday they plan to borrow wireless spectrum from the Defense Ministry as part of a package of measures to meet the heavy wireless demand expected during this summer's Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Whether it's wireless television cameras following cycle races, wireless timing devices on the finish line, or walkie-talkies for emergency personnel, London needs to more than double the amount of spectrum during the Games.
British communications regulator Ofcom said 20,000 wireless frequencies will be assigned during the seven-week period -- twice what is usually assigned for an entire year.
"The UK's airwaves are already among the most intensively used in the world," said Jill Ainscough, Ofcom's chief operating officer. "The London 2012 Games will significantly increase demand."
Some of that demand will come from broadcasters using everything from wireless microphones to cameras, Ofcom said. Around 26,000 members of the media are expected to be in the capital for the Games, it said.
Wireless timing and scoring technology will also be a drain on wireless resources.
To meet demand, the regulator will borrow spectrum from public-sector bodies including the Ministry of Defense and will also use the next-generation superfast mobile 4G networks before they are auctioned off to phone operators.
Britain is also turning off analog television channels in April, giving Ofcom access to the decades-old lower bandwidth.
Ofcom said it's spent the past six years planning for the extra demand. It tried the technology during last year's royal wedding and plans to do so again for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in June, seven weeks before the Olympics' opening ceremony.