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back to article Ofcom begged to protect minicab, other small-biz's radio spectrum

The Federation of Communication Services, trade body to the UK's private radio operators, is calling for Ofcom to step away from the free market when it comes to spectrum regulation. The Federation, representing more than 300 UK companies with interests in private radio, has published a 14-point advisory for Ofcom's …

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Never understood why we need terrestrial TV. If we had spent the money that was spent on moving from analogue to digital in giving people either satellite TV or cable TV we would have saved a lot of money and free up a lot of band width.

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I disagree that moving to satellite or cable would solve anything since those are proprietary networks and unless you want to pay for upkeep on them for me as well it wouldn't work. We should just spend the money to get internet to everyone, scrap timed content altogether and then watch shows off the internet when we want to (i.e. shows would be available to watch at any time during the day / evening / week after etc that they want them to screen on).

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JDX
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You can get free satellite just as you can free TV through your aerial, what's the difference?

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Well the current free-to-air satellite service doesn't include all the channels available on Freeview (e.g. Channel 5).

And satellite comms still require bandwidth, albeit a different part of the spectrum...

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Re: doesn't include Channel 5

I'd have thought you could charge for that service.

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I can get Channel 5 on freesat without a viewing card, I think its been fta for quite a while now.

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Can anyone explain?

From a purely technical and practical point of view, I can't understand why taxi drivers and similar people would need private radio in preference to the standard mobile phone service. A dedicated mobile phone (voice and text only) could easily be made to dock/integrate into the car's power and audio system and a 'specialist' model could be made that can automatically accept calls so that the driver doesn't need to fiddle with it when his controller calls him.

I'm not saying they should be denied the use of private radio, I'm just wondering why they want it in preference to standard mobile voice service. Is it a running cost and/or privacy thing?

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JDX
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Re: Can anyone explain?

A call is person-to-person. Radio lets all the cabbies hear it... dispatch can ask "anyone near West Street?"

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Re: Can anyone explain?

Maybe not as applicable to taxi companies, but radio is used by e.g. security teams in event venues because as well as the one-to-many reception, you're not as limited by phone network signal and capacity etc. Radio nets using battery-powered radios will keep going even in a power cut etc - important considerations in security/safety applications.

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Re: Can anyone explain?

When you are dealing with short sharp bits of information which need to be sent to one or more cars/trucks its a lot quicker and easier to 'push to talk' then go through the whole dialling process. Mind you, mobile operators are missing a trick by not enabling push to talk systems on mobile phones.

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And of course...

you don't have to pay 10p/minute to use a radio..

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Megaphone

Re: And of course...

For company contracts, calls between the company mobiles are normally free*.

*well, bundled anyways.

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Don't most cabbies...

...have a little (3G?) touchscreen box to accept new jobs and for GPS these days, every cab I've been in lately seems to. It actually surprised me the other day when I heard, then saw, the old radio hidden away down by the driver... I thought they'd got rid of them completely.

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Updating

The taxi drivers I've seen here lately seem to be moving in that direction, certainly - and with mobiles having either GPS or at least basic location services, it's easier for the dispatcher to see "ah, Dave's a mile from this fare and not doing anything, I'll send him".

At least one mobile company has managed to offer a working push-to-talk setup anyway, though; I'm sure if they saw a market for it here, handsets would do it pretty soon.

@Tom Wood: Yes, handheld radios work fine in power cuts - but so do mobile phones: the base stations have serious battery capacity to keep them going if the mains goes off for a while. There's also the security angle: radios are easy to monitor/jam/interfere with, mobiles have reasonable protection against that.

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Anonymous Coward

Mobiles in power cuts?

"the base stations have serious battery capacity to keep them going if the mains goes off for a while."

There was a time, back in the day, when some of the bigger base stations even had generators.

These days, with coverage and capacity both enlarged by massive numbers of near-invisible mini cell stations (or whatever they're called), I'm surprised to hear they've got "serious battery capacity".

Linkage welcome, or more details, or whatever.

But personally I'm not expecting mobiles to be guaranteed to work in a power cut, which is one reason why I retain a traditional landline with a line-powered phone on it. I'm assuming BT still have a legal obligation to supply continued landline service during a power cut.

The cable companies never had any such obligation and so when the electricity goes off, your phone service likely goes off.

And I'd be very surprised if it was all that different these days for the mobile companies.

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