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Government pushes broadband hotspots

Wireless deregulation means no more licences

E-commerce Minister Stephen Timms today announced plans to deregulate parts of the 5GHz radio spectrum, used to deliver wireless broadband services, in a bid to provide ADSL connections on the move.

Under the current Wireless Telegraphy Act, operators are required to obtain licences before they are allowed to provide connections to so-called 'public hotspots', which enable people in train stations, cafes, shopping centres and so on to gain immediate access to ADSL services via their laptops or PDAs.

But the plans introduced to Parliament today and due to come into force on 12 February, will open up the RLANs (radio local area networks) to businesses and individuals, allowing them to provide services based on the 802.11a standard — five times faster than the current 11Mbps wireless 802.11b standard — without having to go through the arduous and costly process of obtaining a licence.

"Opening up this radio spectrum will encourage teleco operators to deliver new and innovative public services. It will offer the possibility of 'broadband on the go', with services based in public places," said Timms.

"It is important that businesses are given resources to create and deliver new ideas and technology to benefit the public. This will allow them to make the best use of the limited spectrum and help deliver broadband services," he added.

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