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Statement on the Wireless Telegraphy (Exemption) (Amendment) Regulations 2006

Published 23 November 2006

Summary

1.1 This statement confirms that, following a formal consultation process, the Wireless Telegraphy (Exemption) (Amendment) Regulations 2006 (“the Regulations”) have been made by Ofcom and will come into force on 8 December 2006.

1.2 The Regulations were consulted upon in a Notice published by Ofcom on 5 October 2006. This consultation closed on 6 November 2006 and Ofcom received 8 supportive responses, which have been published on the Ofcom website. In addition to these responses Ofcom received detailed opinions from the European Commission (“the Commission”) on the Interface Requirements (“IRs”) relating to the following technologies that had been included in the Notice:

  • digital PMR 446 (“walkie talkies”); and
  • High Definition Fixed Satellite Systems (“HDFSS”).

1.3 It is a requirement under the Technical Standards Directive (-1-) and the Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Directive (-2-) for EU Member States to notify draft IRs to the Commission. The Commission considers notifications over a three-month period during which it may deliver a detailed opinion that the IR in question may create obstacles to the free movement of goods within the internal market. In these circumstances, the IR may not be adopted for a further three months to allow the Commission sufficient time in which to propose amendments in order to remove or reduce those obstacles.

1.4 As a consequence of the Commission’s detailed opinions, Ofcom cannot finalise and publish the IRs relating to digital PMR 446 and HDFSS. IRs are an integral element of the overall legislative package since the Regulations refer to them, thus a delay to the IRs would also delay the Regulations themselves. In order to avoid this delay extending to all the equipment proposed for exemption in the Regulations, Ofcom has removed these two technologies from the scope of the Regulations. The exemption of digital PMR 446 and HDFSS equipment will now be taken forward separately in the New Year following an analysis of the concerns raised by the Commission.

1.5 The Regulations therefore implement the remaining proposals for the use of the following to be exempt from the need to hold a Wireless Telegraphy Act (“WT Act”) licence. These are:

  • Citizens’ Band (CB) radio – measures to remove the need for users of CB radio, of which there are currently 20,000, to obtain a licence from Ofcom;
  • “micro” FM transmitters – these devices are designed to facilitate easy connection between audio sources (such as digital audio devices and MP3 players) and normal FM broadcast receivers by way of a radio link; and
  • a range of new technologies and novel applications of radio:
    • Inmarsat BGAN satellite terminals;
    • narrowband use of 24 GHz for short-range radar (including automotive applications); and
    • Radar Level Gauges.

    Additionally the Regulations facilitate the implementation of the following Commission Decisions:

  • Commission Decision 2006/771/EC establishing a framework for the harmonisation of radio spectrum for use by short-range devices in the Community. This Decision will shortly be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and whilst arrangements in the UK are already largely compliant with it the Regulations implement a number of minor changes that will bring the UK fully in line with the Decision;
  • Commission Decision 2005/928/EC of 20 December 2005 on the harmonisation of the 169.4-169.8125 MHz frequency band in the Community. This Decision makes spectrum available for a range of applications including hearing aids, social alarms and asset tracking; and
  • Commission Decision 2005/513/EC of 11 July 2005 on the harmonised use of radio spectrum in the 5 GHz frequency band for the implementation of wireless access systems including radio local area networks (WAS/RLANs). Although existing arrangements are believed to be fully compliant we will make some minor changes to bring terminology fully into line with the Decision.

    Further changes include:

  • a range of additional measures to harmonise, on a voluntary basis, with Europe where such measures are viewed as beneficial; and
  • editorial and minor changes designed to improve the clarity of current exemption arrangements and bring them fully up to date.

    The Regulations can be found on the Ofcom website at: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/radiocomms/isu/licence_exempt/regulations/.

Regulatory impact assessment

1.6 The regulatory impact assessment conducted in relation to Ofcom’s exemption proposals can be found in Annex 1 of this statement.

Further information

1.7 Ofcom’s full outline of exemption proposals can be found in the consultation document “Wireless Telegraphy Licence Exemption – Amending the Wireless Telegraphy (Exemption) Regulations 2003” and available on the Ofcom website at: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/wtexemption/.

1.8 The Notice of Ofcom’s proposals to make the Regulations is available on the Ofcom website at: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/exemption/.

Footnotes:

1.- Directive 98/34/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June 1998 laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations.

2.- Directive 1999/5/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 1999 on radio equipment and telecommunications terminal equipment and the mutual recognition of their conformity.

The full document is available below:

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