The Shape of Things to Come? UK Regulator Shares Future Vision

09 May 2008

LONDON: "I have seen the future and it works," wrote US journalist Lincoln Steffens in 1921. Unfortunately, he was referring to Soviet communism and is not now remembered for his prophetic accuracy. UK communications regulator Ofcom, is likewise taking a flier on the future.

The watchdog, responsible to the government's Department for Culture, Media and Sport, has spent what is almost certainly a sizable chunk of public money on crystal-ballgazing.

The result is Tomorrow's Wireless World, a 114-page tome that might tempt cynics to dismiss it as a classic exercise in digging a hole solely to fill it.

Ofcom's 2008 technology research report published Wednesday exudes a Wellsian sense of awe at the treats in store … new technology in cars to help avoid collisions; wireless devices to remind patients to take medication; wireless food content scanners to change the way we shop ...

The conquest of Shakespeare's Sceptred Isle by wireless technology is so "integral to our lives", reports the regulator, that there are currently more mobile subscriptions (70 million) than the 60 million UK population

The report justifies its use of public money by emphasizing Ofcom's responsibility to ensure the most efficient use of the UK's radio frequencies used by such services. 

According to chief technology officer Peter Ingram: "This report demonstrates the many creative ways the radio spectrum can be used for the benefit of UK citizens and consumers." 

His colleague Professor William Webb, head of research and development, concurs: "Our lives continue to be transformed by developments in wireless technology.

"Ofcom's research and development report highlights how a range of innovative new technologies could enhance transport and healthcare. It helps Ofcom plan for future spectrum use to benefit citizens and consumers".

The full report can be accessed by clicking here.

Data sourced from Ofcom (UK); additional content by WARC staff