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[March 09, 2014]
Digital 'white space' frequencies to be opened up for commercial use
(Guardian Web Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Britain aims to double to £100bn by 2025 the amount of economic benefit generated by making full use of unused "white space" digital frequencies, David Cameron will pledge on Monday.
In a speech to the CeBIT 2014 trade fair in Hanover, the prime minister will declare that Britain is playing its part in "a world on fast forward" as he launches a new Spectrum Strategy to ensure that unused frequencies for digital television broadcasts are opened up for wide commercial use.
The unused frequencies are known as "white space" and will provide the "raw material that will underpin the next revolution in wireless communications", Ofcom's chief technology officer Steve Unger said last year.
The prime minister, who was invited by Angela Merkel to join her in opening the high-tech trade fair, will highlight the commercial opportunities as he says that greater use of spectrum will lead to an increase from £50bn to £100bn in its economic benefits by 2025.
The new strategy is a key part of the "internet of things" – the name for technology that allows everyday devices, including fridges, to communicate over the internet. The prime minister, who announced an extra £45m to help develop the "internet of things", said he could envisage a world in which electricity meters "talk to the grid to get you the best deals", health monitors heart rates and fridges can order milk when they detect supplies are low.
Cameron said: "What remarkable progress we see. Today we can put in our pockets a computer more powerful than any computer in the world 20 years ago.
"Just a decade ago – Skype was a typo, a tweet was something you heard from a bird, a cloud was something you saw in the sky – not somewhere you stored your data. Companies that are starting in people's garages and bedrooms one year are going stratospheric the next.
"This is a world on fast forward a world of permanent technological revolution and in this world, countries like the UK and Germany will only succeed if we have a relentless drive for new ideas and innovations." The new spectrum strategy will include a 13-point plan to work with Ofcom to exploit unused frequencies. Cameron said: "We're getting the infrastructure in place, with our regulator, Ofcom, taking a flexible approach to the use of Spectrum. Indeed as our Spectrum Strategy will set out tomorrow, we aim to double the economic benefits of spectrum to UK companies and consumers from roughly £50bn today, to £100bn in 2025. We'll do this by allowing new applications to come on line, new kinds of mobile technologies to be used, more data usage to be enjoyed and greater broadcasting services to be made available." (c) 2014 Guardian Newspapers Limited.
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