Ofcom has set out its stall for promoting the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the UK, declaring spectrum, data security and the shift to IPv6 as key to its success.
These areas form the bulk of an Ofcom document entitled Promoting investment and innovation in the Internet of Things. This is based on feedback from the industry on how Ofcom can best support IoT growth.
One key area is IPv6 uptake. Ofcom said that it will monitor the efforts by internet service providers to migrate to IPv6 addressing to ensure that demand for IoT services can be met.
The push to IPv6 has been cited on numerous occasions by industry and government as vital to the future of the internet and the IoT, although the main telecoms firms have been slow in making the switch.
"We intend to continue to monitor the progress being made by ISPs in migrating to IPv6 connectivity," Ofcom notes in the report.
Data security was also cited as an area that must be given due consideration by firms entering the IoT market to ensure that the public is not at risk from new forms of data gathering and analysis.
“Given the relative immaturity of the IoT and the number and diversity of stakeholders, respondents highlighted a potential benefit in Ofcom working with others in a facilitating role to define best practice for data privacy in the IoT,” Ofcom said in the report.
The regulator added that it will work with the Information Commissioner’s Office to make sure that data protection best practice is shared with the industry to address this issue.
Meanwhile, Ofcom is confident that its approach to spectrum management for the IoT, such as 'white space' spectrum, will allow the rollout of services to take place with adequate network connectivity and capacity.
Ofcom did admit, however, that the evolution of the IoT market remains unknown and that the watchdog will monitor the spectrum it is making available to ensure that it meets demand.
“The market is currently immature and future generations of IoT applications might have increased demands for spectrum (for example, if significant demand for high data rate video emerges),” Ofcom said.
“It will be important, therefore, to continue to monitor the development of the IoT to predict any significant changes in spectrum demand.”
Steve Unger, acting Ofcom chief executive, said that supporting IoT growth is vital for the future of the UK.
“The IoT will bring benefits to a range of sectors and could change the way we live our lives,” he said.
“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.”
The Ofcom report comes on the same day that Gartner estimated that there will be 4.9 billion connected 'things' in the market by the end of 2015, which will then rocket to 25 billion by 2020.
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