Ofcom lays out plans to support Internet of Things

Ofcom has published its plan for the Internet of Things which aims to ensure the UK plays a key role in developing the IoT.

The watchdog says that it wants to work with the government and industry players to ensure the regulations governing the IoT encourage investment and innovation in the space, and don’t stifle development.

Ofcom highlighted a number of priority areas which need to be addressed to ensure this happens, the first of which is spectrum availability – the IoT will see an explosion of devices communicating wirelessly, of course, and they’ll need bandwidth for that. Ofcom reckons that it has short to medium-term spectrum needs covered right now, but it will continue to monitor the situation for the future.

Network security is another important point, as IoT hardware is increasingly adopted and more data from connected devices is stored – Ofcom says it will look into how its existing security monitoring of UK comms networks can include the IoT.

Also tied up in that, data privacy is a concern, and while this will be covered by current legislation (like the Data Protection Act), Ofcom notes that traditional regulations may not fully cover every base for the IoT, and it will work with the ICO and other authorities to explore solutions regarding further data privacy issues the IoT may produce.

Finally, Ofcom notes that IoT services will most likely make use of IPv6, and to that end it will be chivvying ISPs along in supporting IPv6.

There are 40 million IoT devices in the UK today, which is expected to increase by a factor of eight by 2022, Ofcom notes – and globally, there could be as many as 50 billion devices connected by 2020.

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.”