British telecoms regulator Ofcom has announced that it is ‘taking steps to ensure the UK plays a leading role in developing the Internet of Things (IoT)’. The watchdog revealed that it is working with both industry and Government with a view to creating a regulatory environment which fosters investment and innovation in the emerging IoT, highlighting the fact that there are already over 40 million connected devices in the UK alone, a figure which it said is forecast to grow more than eight-fold by 2022.
In terms of the key areas of work for Ofcom, it said it had identified several priority areas following input from stakeholders last year, with those being: spectrum availability, with the regulator set to continue to monitor the IoT’s spectrum needs to help identify when additional spectrum may be needed; data privacy, with Ofcom to work with the Information Commissioner’s Office, government, other regulators and industry to explore solutions to data privacy issues in the IoT; network security and resilience; and network addressing.
Ofcom said its plans are designed to ensure that the UK has the tools and infrastructure to allow the IoT to develop unhindered, and to support this it highlighted the fact that it had already released spectrum for machine-to-machine (M2M) uses, a move which made the country among the first in Europe to do so. Commenting on the matter, Steve Unger, Ofcom’s acting chief executive, said: ‘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.’