Ofcom sets out plans to support UK in IoT era

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UK regulator Ofcom has revealed plans to extend its support to the Internet of Things (IoT) to help facilitate the take-off of the technology in the United Kingdom.

Ofcom, which is already prepping for 5G in the UK, said it wished to “help create the right environment” for the predicted eight-fold growth of IoT devices expected in the country by 2022, highlighting a number of key areas it would target to help accommodate the technology.

Spectrum availability will be a primary focus, the regulator said. Ofcom will monitor the spectrum needs for IoT in the country and help assess if and when additional resources are required.

Ofcom will also work with the Information Commissioner’s Office as well as other regulators and government bodies to address privacy issues surrounding IoT, particularly regarding users’ personal data, which will covered under existing legislation in the Data Protection Act 1998. 

Network security and reliability will be investigated by the regulator, with Ofcom adding that it would continue to monitor the progress of operator support for the IPv6 protocol, which is able to support connections between “a significantly greater number of devices.”

Ofcom said that IoT held potential for a range of industries in the UK, including “smart farming”, which involves the automated fertilisation of farms, as well as smart energy grids and intelligent traffic management.

It added that the regulator’s support ensures that the United Kingdom has the necessary infrastructure to allow the technology flourish “unhindered”.

Steve Unger, Acting Ofcom Chief Executive, commented: “The Internet of Things will bring benefits to a range of sectors and could change the way we live our lives.

“As a result of this growth, we have listened closely to industry and want to develop a framework for this technology to evolve in a way which will ultimately benefit citizens and consumers.”

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