As of 13 August UK citizens will be free to use ultra-wideband (UWB) wireless technology without a licence – as long as they stay indoors.
Until now, using UWB frequencies has required a licence in the UK, but on 13 August the UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, will lift the requirement.
UWB allows data transfer of up 2Gbps over distances of up to 30m, so is suitable for connecting domestic digital devices, such as PCs with DVD players, digital music players and other rich media gadgets.
In many applications UWB uses less power than rival wireless technologies, such as the latest fast wi-fi standards, and so will extend battery life when used with portable devices, such as digital cameras and portable music players.
“Radio spectrum is an essential raw material in the development of converged communications services," said Ed Richards, Ofcom’s chief executive.
"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.”
The details of the regulations, known as the Wireless Telegraphy (Ultra-Wideband Equipment) (Exemption) Regulations 2007, state that UWB is licensed for indoor use only.
Ofcom's move is part of an EU-wide deregulation of UWB. The UK is the first EU state to do so and other members are expected to follow in the coming months.
UWB is already deregulated in the US and Japan, where business products such as Y-E Data’s YD-300 four-port ultrawideband hub was launched nine months ago. In the US last month, Lenovo launched the first laptop with integrated UWB, the ThinkPad T61p.
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