With 26,000 members of the global media converging in London this summer, the 2012 Olympic Games will be the biggest media event in history. As such, Britain’s communications regulator, Ofcom, says demand from wireless technologies will more than double in the capital during the Games’ seven-week run — testing the country’s spectrum reserves like never before. With wireless spectrum already at full capacity in London for many of the applications to be used during the Olympics, Ofcom has devised plans to manage the airwaves including borrowing spectrum from public sector bodies like the Ministry of Defence. It will also free up unused civil frequencies and make use of spectrum that’s available without a license. Ofcom has been at the task since 2006, shortly after London won the bid to host the Games. Tests have been run in the past year, including at the April 2011 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. During the Games, up to 20,000 wireless frequencies will be assigned for such technologies as wireless cameras, microphones, timing and scoring systems and sports commentary systems. That’s more than double the number usually assigned in a year.
Because spectrum is a limited resource, Ofcom has built a new assignment system that will manage access and will deploy a team of radio engineers to track down and deal with any cases of interference. It’s also enhancing its field engineering team with experts from other European countries. Ofcom COO Jill Ainscough says: “The UK’s airwaves are already among the most intensively used in the world. The London 2012 Games will significantly increase demand. Ready and prepared for this challenge, Ofcom recognises that there is no room for complacency. We are working behind the scenes to make this capacity available, to ensure that this demand is met.”