London 2012 set to be the 'biggest media event in history'
Its budget may not be as big as Beijing's, but the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games are expected to break a record when it hosts around 26,000 journalists and broadcasters and become the biggest media event in the planet's history.
London 2012: set to be the 'biggest media event in history'
According to an Ofcom report today, the record number of media expected to descend on London this summer for the Olympics presents a "unique logistical challenge never faced before", with a need to assign up to 20,000 wireless frequencies.
Careful management of London’s airwaves is said to be "essential" for coverage of the seven weeks of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Ofcom reports it has been working on a plan since 2006.
Demand will be fuelled by the increasing use of wireless technologies by broadcasters, such as wireless cameras and wireless microphones, as coverage is beamed to an estimated global audience of more than four billion viewers.
Media representatives using wireless technology, for the likes of filming through to internal communication and security, will all be reliant on the UK's limited spectrum.
Finding extra spectrum to handle demand
To meet the extra demands of broadcasters, media and the London 2012 Organising Committee (Locog), Ofcom has developed a four-stage plan to secure additional capacity.
The regulator intends to borrow spectrum on a short-term basis from public sector bodies, such as the Ministry of Defence. The currently unused frequencies on the civil spectrum will also be made available through an auctioning process handled by Ofcom.
Spectrum recently freed-up by the digital switchover will also become available. In addition, the world's media will also be able to use some spectrum that is currently available without the need for a licence.
It has also been revealed that last year's royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey acted as a test event for the London 2012 and Ofcom's new spectrum assignment system.
In addition to Ofcom's spectrum plans, a modern sensor network has also been built across the country to identify any interference issues before they arise.
Ofcom will also be deploying a large team of radio engineers to track down and deal with any cases of interference that do occur, with its engineering team being supplemented with specialists from other European countries.
Jill Ainscough, chief operating officer of Ofcom, said: "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."
Follow Arif Durrani on Twitter @DurraniMix
This article was first published on mediaweek.co.uk
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