Short Range Devices Information Sheet

1 What Is a Short Range Device?

A Short Range Device (SRD) is a general term, applied to various radio devices designed to operate usually on a license exempt basis, over short range and at low power levels. This includes devices such as alarms, telemetry and telecommand devices, radio microphones, radio local area networks and anti-theft devices with maximum powers of up to 500 mW at VHF/UHF, as well as certain microwave/Doppler devices with maximum powers of up to 10 W.

For a full list of devices covered by this information sheet, and the parameters they must operate within, see the UK Radio Interface requirements IR2030

SRDs are for terrestrial use only, unless stated otherwise in the IR2030. They normally operate on a non-protected, non-interference basis.

2 Some points to note

When selecting parameters for SRDs, manufacturers and users should pay particular attention to the potential for interference from other systems and services operating in the same or adjacent bands. This is especially important for SRD devices that may be used in safety-critical applications. SRDs cannot claim protection from other authorised services, SRD or, generally, from other spectrum users and must not cause harmful interference themselves.

The pattern of radio use is continuously evolving to reflect the many changes taking place in the radio environment, including the introduction of new applications and technologies. Ofcom may need to review spectrum allocations occasionally to reflect these changes; the position set out in this information sheet is subject to amendment following consultation with interested parties.

3 Why have most of these devices been exempted from licensing?

SRDs have little potential to cause interference to other radio users, provided they operate under the correct technical conditions. In keeping with Ofcom's general policy of deregulation and reducing unnecessary burdens, we have removed the need for most SRDs to be licensed.  The latest regulations governing the use of SRD can be found here.

Please note that the 'exemption' SI is reviewed periodically and is amended or reissued as required.

Some SRDs retain the need to be licensed, to give appropriate protection to other sensitive radio communications services. These include certain Radar Level Gauges, Ground Probing Radar and Radio Microphones. Details of these licensed SRD can be found at Licensed Short Range Devices.

4 UK Radio Interface Requirements

These interfaces, published as UK Radio Interface Requirements (IRs), specify the conditions you must meet to use the radio spectrum in the UK. IR2030 contains the requirements for SRDs' licensing and use in the specified frequency bands. Under the Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment R&TTE Directive, the UK must give the European Commission details of the radio interfaces it regulates.

5 Description of SRD applications

This section gives a broad outline of the uses and frequency bands available for use in the UK. For the precise details of the technical restrictions in force in the UK , the constraints detailed in IR2030 must always be complied with.

Several SRD categories have been defined by the Commission Decision -2013/752/EU.

5.1 The active medical implant device category covers the radio part of active implantable medical devices that are intended to be totally or partially introduced, surgically or medically, into the human body or that of an animal, and where applicable their peripherals.

5.2 Animal implantable devices are transmitting devices which are placed inside the body of an animal for the purpose of performing diagnostic functions and/or delivery of therapeutic treatment.

5.3  The non-specific short-range device category covers all kinds of radio devices, regardless of the application or the purpose, which fulfil the technical conditions as specified for a given frequency band. Typical uses include telemetry, telecommand, alarms, data transmissions in general and other applications.

5.4 The assistive listening device (ALD) category covers radio communications systems that allow persons suffering from hearing disability to increase their listening capability. Typical systems include one or more radio transmitters and one or more radio receivers.

5.5 The metering device category covers radio devices that are part of bidirectional radio communications systems which allow remote monitoring, measuring and transmission of data in smart grid infrastructures, such as electricity, gas and water.

5.6 Social alarm devices are radio communications systems that allow reliable communication for a person in distress in a confined area to initiate a call for assistance. Typical uses of social alarm are to assist elderly or disabled people.

5.7 Active implantable medical devices as defined in Council Directive 90/385/EEC of 20 June 1990 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to active implantable medical devices (OJ L 189, 20.7.1990, p. 17).

5.8 The high duty cycle/continuous transmission device category covers radio devices that rely on low latency and high duty cycle transmissions. Typical uses are for personal wireless audio and multimedia streaming systems, mobile phones, automotive or home entertainment system, wireless microphones, cordless loudspeakers, cordless headphones, radio devices carried on a person, assistive listening devices, in-ear monitoring, wireless microphones for use at concerts or other stage productions, and low power analogue FM transmitters (band 36).

5.9 The radio determination device category covers radio devices that are used for determining the position, velocity and/or other characteristics of an object, or for obtaining information relating to these parameters. Typical uses are various kinds of measurement applications.

5.10 Tank Level Probing Radar (TLPR) is a specific type of radiodetermination application, which is used for tank level measurements and is installed in metallic or reinforced concrete tanks, or similar structures made of material with comparable attenuation characteristics. The purpose of the tank is to contain a substance.

5.11 Model control devices are a specific kind of telecommand and telemetry radio equipment that is used to remotely control the movement of models (principally miniature representations of vehicles) in the air, on land or over or under the water surface.

5.12 The radio frequency identification (RFID) device category covers tag/interrogator based radio communications systems, consisting of radio devices (tags) attached to animate or inanimate items and of transmitter/receiver units (interrogators) which activate the tags and receive data back. Typical uses include the tracking and identification of items, such as for electronic article surveillance (EAS), and collecting and transmitting data relating to the items to which tags are attached, which may be either battery-less, battery assisted or battery powered. The responses from a tag are validated by its interrogator and passed to its host system.

5.13 The transport and traffic telematics device category covers radio devices that are used in the fields of transport (road, rail, water or air, depending on the relevant technical restrictions), traffic management, navigation, mobility management and in intelligent transport systems (ITS). Typical applications are used for interfaces between different modes of transport, communication between vehicles (e.g. car to car), between vehicles and fixed locations (e.g. car to infrastructure) as well as communication from and to users.

5.14 The inductive device category covers radio devices that use magnetic fields with inductive loop systems for near field communications. Typical uses include devices for car immobilisation, animal identification, alarm systems, cable detection, waste management, personal identification, wireless voice links, access control, proximity sensors, anti-theft systems, including RF anti-theft induction systems, data transfer to hand-held devices, automatic article identification, wireless control systems and automatic road tolling.

5.15 The low duty cycle/high reliability device category covers radio devices that rely on low overall spectrum utilisation and low duty cycle spectrum access rules to ensure highly reliable spectrum access and transmissions in shared bands. Typical uses include alarm systems that use radio communication for indicating an alert condition at a distant location and social alarms systems that allow reliable communication for a person in distress.

5.16 The wideband data transmission device category covers radio devices that use wideband modulation techniques to access the spectrum. Typical uses include wireless access systems such as radio local area networks (WAS/RLANs).

The UK has also several further categories of SRD.  These are defined as;

5.17 Alarms systems that uses radio signals to generate or indicate an alarm condition, or to arm or disarm the system.

5.18 Industrial / Commercial Telemetry and Telecommand apparatus.  Please see IR2030/2 for further details of channels available, permitted maximum radiated power and channel restrictions applicable.

5.19 Databuoy Telemetry apparatus, operating in the 34 MHz and 35 MHz bands, may only be used for telemetry in a marine environment. Please see IR2030/3 for further details of channels available, permitted maximum power and channel restrictions applicable.

5.20 Short Range Indoor Data Links in the 2445 to 2455 MHz and 5725 to 5875 MHz bands are provided for transmitting data within a building. Music and Speech are permitted only when the using a digitised signal. Please see IR2030/9 for further details of channels available, permitted maximum power and channel restrictions applicable.

5.21 Metal Detectors operating in the 9 to 148.5 kHz band, may only be used for the purpose of detecting metal and are limited to operating in the magnetic field. Please see IR2030/16 for further details of channels available, permitted maximum power and channel restrictions applicable.

5.22 Wireless Video Cameras - Non Broadcasting can operate in the 1394 MHz, 2400 to 2483.5 MHz and 5725 to 5875 MHz bands. Please see IR2030/27 for further details of channels available, permitted maximum power and channel restrictions applicable.  Typical applications are for general-purpose closed-circuit television applications.

5.23 Video Distribution for Private Use operating in the 1394 MHz band, may only be used for the distribution of video and associated audio, for private use. Please see IR2030/28 for further details of channels available, permitted maximum power and channel restrictions applicable. Typical applications are for domestic low-power video senders.

5.24 Licence Exempt Radar Level Gauges are used for measuring the contents of large containers at industrial sites, operate in the microwave bands at low power. The UK allocation of Radar Level Gauge, are 5.150 to 7.100 GHz, 8.500 to 10.600 GHz, 10.700 to  10.85 GHz and 24.3 to 27.7 GHz. A licence is required for equipment operating in the 10.6 to 10.7 GHz band. Please see IR2030/29 for further details of licence exempt channels available, permitted maximum power and channel restrictions applicable.

5.25 Networked SRD - Meter Reading Sensors and Actuators  These devices operate in the frequency band 870 to 875.6 MHz and are for use in Networked Meter Reading and Sensors (water, gas and electricity; meteorological instruments; pollution measurement; environmental data, such as levels of allergens (pollen, dust), electromagnetic pollution (solar activity), noise) and actuators (controlling devices such as street or traffic lights)

6. Interference

Most SRD bands are shared with other radio services. If you receive interference from an authorised service that is operating within the terms of an appropriate licence or under licence exemption conditions, we cannot provide any protection; you or your SRD manufacturer must find a solution.

If you suspect an unauthorised transmission or you think an authorised service is operating outside the terms of its licence or licence exemption, you may complain to Ofcom.

The commonest cause of interference to SRDs from licensed radio services is the design of the SRD receiver. Before you complain to Ofcom about possible third-party interference, we strongly advise you to consult your device's supplier or manufacturer, to ensure that the device is designed to operate satisfactorily within the relevant band plan. If we investigate your complaint and find that your receiver has inadequate performance, you may be liable for any official costs incurred.

SRDs must not cause undue interference to other authorised services. If your SRD does cause undue interference, an Ofcom representative may order you to cease your operations.

Separate receivers should be well designed, taking into account other services that may share or be in adjacent bands. Please pay particular attention to spurious response rejection, selectivity, blocking and desensitisation.

The ETSI Standard EN 300 220 provides recommended limits.

7 Illegal devices

Ofcom publishes Licensing rules and regulations. These include a guide to the use of radio transmitters and the law. It is an offence to use a radio transmitter that has not been correctly authorised. Ofcom has the powers to take enforcement action against unlawful use of radiocommunications, including prosecution where necessary.

8 The R& TTE Directive, type approval and marking requirements

Since April 2000, the R&TTE Directive has removed the need for national type approval, replacing it with a conformity assessment regime based on manufacturers' self-declarations. Manufacturers, or other persons who place equipment on the market in the EU, take full responsibility for the conformance of their equipment.

The R&TTE Directive covers all equipment that uses the radio frequency spectrum, with a few exceptions. The main purpose of the Directive includes:

  • Conformity of a product with the requirements of the Directive.  Assessment of the conformity of a product with the requirements of the Directive is the responsibility of the manufacturer;
  • Radio equipment must effectively use the spectrum and not cause harmful interference. In exceptional cases the EU can introduce additional public interest requirements;
  • Obligation for manufacturers to inform the end user of intended use and limitations of use.  The Directive obliges manufacturers to inform users of the intended use and the limitations of use both on the packaging and in the manual.

The R&TTE Directive is in the process of being replaced by the Radio Equipment Directive (RED).

9 Testing and Development, and Temporary Use

If development work is needed before a piece of equipment is declared compliant, this may be carried out under the authority of a Non-Operational Technology Development licence.

10 European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)

ETSI is a European standards-making body, responsible for developing and publishing European Telecommunications Standards (ENs) and, where appropriate, its own ETSI Standards (ESs).
The European Commission has mandated ETSI to develop ENs as harmonised Standards for use under the R& TTE Directive. Equipment complying with these standards gives the manufacturer or importer the presumption of conformity to the R& TTE Directive's requirements.
Within ETSI's Electromagnetic and Radio Matters Group (ERM), a number of task groups (TGs) exist that develop standards for SRD. The main TGs of interest are:
TG11 (concerned with Wideband Data Systems)
TG 17 (concerned with radio microphones and cordless audio devices (among other issues)
TG 28 (concerned with generic SRD applications);
TG 30 (concerned with medical applications);
TG 34 (concerned with 'high-power' radio frequency identification systems).
TG SRR (concerned with Automotive Short Range Radar); and
TG TLPR (concerned with Tank Level Probing Radar);

11 European Commission

The European Commission (EC) have developed an EC Decision intended to harmonise the use of certain SRD within the European Union. This decision is 2006/ 771/EC (as amended). Apparatus that has lawfully been placed on the market or brought into use in the EU under the R&TTE Directive that complies with this EC Decision may be used in the UK. The European Commission routinely updates this decision. The 2013 revision of the decision is2013/752/EU.

12 European Standards

ENs and ESs can be obtained direct from the ETSI Publications Download Area or from the British Standards Institution BSI

13. Further information

Enquiries about information given in this information sheet should be addressed to SRD.Info@ofcom.org.uk