Ofcom wants mobile phone license exempt on boats

Ofcom is holding a consultation to make mobile terminals (phone) license exempt when used on boats.

Generally the boat (like a cruise liner) will have one or more pico cells on-board and then connect back to a base station. Ofcom will license the mobile base-stations and then the phone licenses are part of that. This is in-line with harmonise European legislation on marine communication service on board vessels.

The consultation is available on Ofcom's site and runs from 19/11/10 to 22/12/10.

Stakeholders can respond on-line.


HTC Wildfire fired into the wild

HTC have released their new Wildfire phone running Android 2.1 (Eclair) and HTC Sense with a suite of social networking tools built in (Facebook, Twitter and Flickr) and many more on Android Marketplace.

The CPU isn't brilliant (only 528MHz) and the display is only QVGA (240 x 320) and os 3.2", but it does have a 5MP auto-focus camera with flash, 512MB ROM and 384MB RAM. It supports 3G, EDGE, GPRS and WiFi (b/g), Bluetooth 2.1 and an FM radio.

There's a multitude of sensors, including G-Sensor, digital compass, proximity sensor and ambient light sensor.

Here's a video of what it can do

More info can be found at the HTC site.

Qualcomm Snapdragons pack more byte for buck

Yesterday Qualcomm announced their new Snapdragon MSM8960™ chipset. Though based on the original (ARM) Snapdragon system, the new chip is dual core with the new micro-architecture that delivers 5 times the performance while using 75% less power.

The processor has a built-in mult-modem support all 3G modes as well as LTE, new graphics that operate at 4 times the speed and built-in support for WLAN, GPS, Bluetooth and FM.

The chip is based on a 28nm process and will be available in early 2011.

Qualcomm's Snapdragon is already used in many high-end smart-phones and tablets and the new chip should really give them a lead in the high end market against rivals such as Samsung and even Apple.


Ofcom consultation on "whitespace" use and Gelocation

There's lots of spectrum around, but it's a crowded space and so much of it is licensed by Ofcom i.e. in order to utilise equipment that transmits or receives data in that spectrum a "use" license is required. This is why a TV license is required. Mobile phones also require a license, but that's paid as part of the license that the mobile network operators have (and have paid for).

Various parts of the spectrum have been made license exempt such as 2.4GHz which is used by WiFi (802.11b/g/n), Bluetooth and other systems like Zigbee. Licenses exempt status means that a user doesn't need to get a specific license if they use the equipment in accordance with the rules that Ofcom have published (i.e. Ofcom publish a "blanket" license and as long as the equipment in use doesn't get used outside the licensing framework, then the use doesn't need to get a license themselves). Any WiFi or Bluetooth systems will comply with Ofcom's licensing regime.

In the past Ofcom has bowed to public pressure and made certain equipment license exempt such as low power FM transmitters than can connect to MP3 and other music devices and transmit a short range to a radio (usually in a car). As they're low power, they wont interfere with the commercial radio stations (at least to other users) who have paid a lot of money for the licenses to transmit in the commercial radio bands.

Another big chunk of spectrum is in the TV bands and some of this is reserved so that interference between bands doesn't happen. The TV bands have much better propagation characteristics than say 2.4GHz which is used by WiFi and Ofcom are looking at ways of using the "dead" space for short-range low power devices which could be used say to transmit video signals between systems in the home. The whitespace could also be used for higher power rural broadband access.

They would work by looking at the bands and finding these dead areas known as whitespace and then those frequencies would be potential candidates for local transmission. However this could rapidly lead to interference between neighbouring systems (say in a neighbours house), so Ofcom wants the systems to consult a geolocation database (hosted by Ofcom) that the system could register with and ensure the whitespace was suitable for use in that area.

There would be a "master" device that would communicate with Ofcom's database and report the power and frequencies it was using and any connected devices (slaves, that wouldn't need to connect to the database themselves). The whitespace devices will be license exempt. Though Ofcom will initially run any database required, they don't evisage running the database in the future as that is best left to commercial organisations and Ofcom would like interested parties to contact them.

Though Ofcom are consulting now (the consultation runs from 09/11/10 to 07/12/10) they don't expect whitespace devices to appear until 2014.

Interested parties can respond to the consultation on-line.

Ofcom issues new spectrum for Transportable Earth Stations

Due to the demand for extra capacity for Transportable Earth Stations (TES) i.e. mobile satellite systems, Ofcom has made available more spectrum for its use.

The following frequencies may be used for satellite uplinks

C band: 5925 - 7075 MHz

Ka band: 27.5 - 27.8185 GHz, 28.4545 - 28.8265 GHz, 29.4625 - 30 GHz

The pricing for licenses will be equivalent to those in the Ku band (13.78 - 14.5 GHz).

This follows a previous Ofcom consultation and though most responses were favourable, there were some objections from fixed earth station users, though Ofcom felt that opening up the C and Ka bands was more favourable than doing nothing with them.

The full statement may be seen on Ofcom's site