The UK Department of Trade & Industry sees the potential for a communications boom in the RF spectrum above 30GHz, according to a consultative document issued yesterday. Entitled The Use of the Radio Frequency Spectrum above 30GHz it sets out what it sees as the potential for new equipment and services in what are known […]
The UK Department of Trade & Industry sees the potential for a communications boom in the RF spectrum above 30GHz, according to a consultative document issued yesterday. Entitled The Use of the Radio Frequency Spectrum above 30GHz it sets out what it sees as the potential for new equipment and services in what are known as the millimetre bands, and calls for responses from potential users and industry to be sent to the Department by December 31. Suggested systems include point-to-point links for telephone circuits, data, surveillance, or outside broadcast television; point-to-multipoint links for television distribution by cable operators, or data transmission in business centres; non-regulated links for those whose radio interference range is extremely short; and mobile, short range (tens to hundreds of yards) systems organised on a cellular or other basis. Under the Telecommunications Act 1984 companies will need a licence to provide the services – but licences are expected to cost only UKP200 to UKP300. The government says that in some circumstances fixed radio services may be run by private organisations, exempt from licensing under the Act. However these must be controlled exclusively by the operator of the system; may not convey signals to, or be connected to, any system operated by third parties; and must be used exclusively for the purpose of the operator’s business. The maximum practical operating range for millimetre wavebands is between six and 10 miles as their very high frequency means they are quickly absorbed into the atmosphere. The short range could be turned to advantage however since it allows the re-use of frequencies at short distances, so increasing the capacity of the bands over the country. Government policy also allows short telephone connections between buildings belonging to the same business across gaps such as highways which could be provided using line-of-sight millimetre links. The document says the main obstacle to date has been the cost. The electronic circuits needed to work at these high frequencies are expensive, especially in short production runs. But with the lower frequency wavebands becoming more cluttered as markets for cellular telephones, mobile radio links and paging services increase, the incentive to break out also increases. The document says that technological achievement expected within the next five years, coupled with increased use could cut manufacturing costs by up to 90%. No mention was made by the Department of the one serious concern about such high-frequency radiation, which is that extended exposure is decidedly not good for people, leading to sterility or worse.