Wireless Sensor Networks

01 July 2008

As a research area, wireless sensor networks have been investigated for number of years, primarily for military purposes. However, there is increasing interest in developing such technology for civilian and commercial applications. There are many barriers to the widespread deployment of sensor networks, including:

  • sensor devices are currently too expensive for many applications;
  • there is a need for power supplies that can last for many months or years; and
  • difficulties in building a reliable wireless network, perhaps based on a meshed topology, to transport the data from the sensors.

These difficulties aside, there is sufficient momentum in the research and development community to suggest that sensor networks are likely to become commonplace in the future. Given the use of wireless technologies to network these devices, we commissioned this study to answer the following questions:

  • what are the key barriers preventing the widespread deployment of sensor networks today?
  • are these barriers likely to be overcome? If so, how and in what timescales?
  • what are the resulting implications for sensor deployments? When and how densely can we expect to see sensor networks deployed and in which situations?
  • which wireless technologies are likely to be used for which network deployments?
  • what will the spectrum implications of such deployments be?

Ofcom's technical research programme enables us to keep up to date with technologies and trends, so that we can be in the best possible position to execute our regulatory duties. We do not conduct research in-house but make use of external resources, such as private commercial organisations, university departments and government funded research institutions. These reports present the findings of technical work conducted on Ofcom’s behalf. The opinions and conclusions stated within these reports are those of the organisations who conducted the research and may not reflect the view of Ofcom or imply any future policy work in related areas.

Full reports

Wireless Sensor Networks Final Report - 1 (PDF, 2.3 MB)

Wireless Sensor Networks Final Report - 2 (PDF, 2.1 MB)

Wireless Sensor Networks Final Report - 3 (PDF, 1.2 MB)