EMC and the law

Discussion in 'EMC Matters' started by G3YRZ, Feb 29, 2016.

  1. G3YRZ

    G3YRZ Member

    With obviously increasing problems arising from EMC - or rather non-C - and RFI, I thought it may be helpful to explore the ways in which the law can help or hinder us. I invite commentary from anyone who has experience of looking at any of these points with the authorities.

    I hope that I have a useful perspective, having been licensed since 1969 and also being a lawyer specialising in civil litigation.

    My starting point is the international requirement. The UK is signatory to the Radio Regulations, which as an international treaty must be applied by domestic governments.

    Here are some useful definitions from the ITU Radio Regulations:

    1.56 amateur service: A radiocommunication service for the purpose of selftraining, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, by
    duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.

    1.166 interference: The effect of unwanted energy due to one or a combination of
    emissions, radiations, or inductions upon reception in a radiocommunication system, manifested by any performance degradation, misinterpretation, or loss of information which could be extracted in the absence of such unwanted energy.

    1.169 harmful interference: Interference which endangers the functioning of a
    radionavigation service or of other safety services or seriously degrades, obstructs, or repeatedly interrupts a radiocommunication service operating in accordance with Radio Regulations.

    And what are governments supposed to do about "harmful interference" (I am concentrating on EMC/RFI here rather than DQRM)? The answer is in clause 15.12 of Article 15:

    Article 15 - Interferences

    Section II – Interference from electrical apparatus and installations of any
    kind except equipment used for industrial, scientific and medical applications


    15.12 § 8 Administrations shall take all practicable and necessary steps to ensure that the operation of electrical apparatus or installations of any kind, including power and telecommunication distribution networks, but excluding equipment used for industrial, scientific and medical applications, does not cause harmful interference to a radiocommunication service and, in particular, to a radionavigation or any other safety service operating in accordance with the provisions of these Regulations.

    I will leave my first post in this thread here and invite comments - my question is, what have the UK govenment (i.e. OFCOM) done to "take all practicable and necessary steps to ensure that the operation of electrical apparatus or installations of any kind, including power and telecommunication distribution networks.... does not cause harmful interference to a radiocommunication service..."

    Over to you...
    Kev likes this.
  2. M0JAV

    M0JAV Moderator

    Thanks for that useful summary.

    Key to this is determining what constitutes Harmful Interference (HI) to the amateur service. Amateurs often have to QSY to avoid QRN or DQRM or to find a propagation path that is open, providing they are to communicate after that have they suffered Harmful Interference?

    The EMCC have been preparing a document for imminent discussion with Ofcom on this topic.
    Some of the main categories along with a statement of what could be harmful are listed below:

    1.1. Awards given for confirmed contacts with other places, (regions, continents, zones, countries, islands, states, summits, grid squares to name a few) These often require different bands to be used to gain the award. HI could prevent very weak contacts often at times limited by propagation openings thus preventing the amateur gaining the award.

    1.2. Contests where individuals and groups try to make as many confirmed contacts as possible in specific bands often with low power limitations for transmissions. There are several contests most weeks. HI could prevent or delay making contact with another station thus lowering the score for the contestant.

    1.3. Experimental communication often using very low powers and digital modes to measure how far transmissions on different bands can go. HI could be prevention of completion of the experiment.

    1.4. Interference identification and location aiming to find equipment unintentionally causing or people nearby or overseas intentionally causing interference. HI could be raising the background noise levels thus masking the problem source.

    1.5. Special Event Stations often operating from a themed place like an island rarely activated. HI could be prevention of reception at either end preventing confirmation of the contact.

    1.6. Propagation studies where beacons are used to measure the effect of differing propagation conditions on communications signal strength and intelligibility. HI interference could mask the results in specific places, times, frequencies

    1.7. Spectrum Protection by testing new apparatus which is potentially harmful to communication or which causes electromagnetic pollution. HI could be masking of the background preventing this work.

    1.8. Emergency Communications amateurs through Raynet provide emergency communications across the world when traditional communications are down because of natural disasters etc. HI could prevent provision of this service.

    1.9. Equipment development / testing often new electronic equipment, systems, antennas are developed for new communication techniques. HI could prevent testing and use of this equipment.

    1.10. Talk Groups often used by Special Interest Groups to discuss recent activities in their specialized area. HI could prevent individuals taking part.

    1.11. Nets a specific frequency at specific times where talk groups communicate. HI could prevent individuals taking part.

    1.12. DXpeditions when a group goes to remote location oftena sparsely populated Island to activate a new or rare area for contacts. Often the only form of communication is radio and so all administrative arrangements are made on HF radio. HI could result in loss of communication with the administrators back at base and could put the members at unnecessary risk

    Your feed back on this and alternatives would be helpful
    John Rogers M0JAV
    Chairman EMC Committee
    Kev likes this.
  3. Kev

    Kev Member

    Hi John Rogers.

    Due to the noise problem we have here we cannot do the following from your list:

    1.1
    1.2
    1.3
    1.4 is currently problematic, due to the fact that their is 30 Energy Saving CFL lights raising the noise floor by over 6DB when they are on, which wipes everything else out.
    1.6
    1.10
    1.11

    7 out of 12 points you make that we cannot do here, due to the failure of the current legislation..

    I am all for that list to be hammered out to alter the rules on all electrical goods that come onto the market, but once again, we come down to enforcement.

    Regards

    Kev de 2E0WCK
  4. M0JAV

    M0JAV Moderator

    Thanks for your feedback. We agree it comes down to enforcement and we are tackling that with Ofcom.
    We eagerly await Ofcoms new powers they sought following consultation in January 2015. We are encouraged that they believe this will enable them to take more steps against RFI. Enforcement relies on evidence which ultimately Ofcom have to collect themselves. My aim with this list is provide better information in reports that we send them so they can concentrate their efforts on verification and enforcement. Currently they spend a lot of effort requesting clarification of information supplied by amateurs, often people jump to conclusions about the source of interference, when another cause is producing much more RFI. I believe the RSGB EMCC can help by checking the information and filling in the gaps before submission to Ofcom.

    Interested to hear the views of others?
    John M0JAV
    Kev likes this.
  5. Kev

    Kev Member


    Hi John, they seriously failed me then, even after I confirmed what the issue was, they had already made a decision based on my evidence.

    Can you tell me what these new powers are?

    Would they include something that already has a CE mark on it?

    Regards

    Kev de 2E0WCK
  6. G3YRZ

    G3YRZ Member

    My first post was the beginning. There is more to go; I thought I would break it up.

    I was motivated to put something together because of the experiences of various people reported in these forums and elsewhere. While others have greater technical expertise than me, I hoped I could contribute something, however small, from my day job skills. I hoped to contribute some notes that would help anyone who is more interested in operating than in wading through legislation and regulations, gain some idea about what is going on.

    I believe the simplicity in the Radio Regulations has disappeared somewhere. The Regulations state things in pretty basic terms:

    "Administrations shall take all practicable and necessary steps to ensure that the operation of electrical apparatus or installations of any kind, including power and telecommunication distribution networks, but excluding equipment used for industrial, scientific and medical applications, does not cause harmful interference to a radiocommunication service..."

    And harmful interference is:

    "Interference which... seriously degrades, obstructs, or repeatedly interrupts a radiocommunication service operating in accordance with Radio Regulations"

    So the key words are "seriously degrades", "obstructs" and "repeatedly interrupts". I would have thought that it is pretty obvious when such things happen, and they can be evidenced both subjectively, by the experience of the victim in plain language ("I could only copy him 3 by 9 with the QRM") and/or objectively ("the wideband pulse noise exceeded 100uV at the antenna terminals into a 50 ohm load").

    In the UK, the Radio Regulations can be seen reflected in, although made more complex by, the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006. Let us have a look at some relevant sections. You will see the "degrades, obstructs, or repeatedly interrupts" in the interpretation section:


    Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006

    115 General interpretation

    (4) Interference with any wireless telegraphy is not to be regarded as undue for the
    purposes of this Act unless it is also harmful.

    (5) For the purposes of this Act interference is harmful if—

    (a) it creates dangers, or risks of danger, in relation to the functioning of any service provided by means of wireless telegraphy for the purposes of navigation or otherwise for safety purposes; or

    (b) it degrades, obstructs or repeatedly interrupts anything which is being broadcast or otherwise transmitted

    (i) by means of wireless telegraphy; and

    (ii) in accordance with a wireless telegraphy licence, regulations under section 8(3) or a grant of recognised spectrum access or otherwise lawfully.

    Here is Section 54, which gave OFCOM the legal right to do something about harmful interference. Although they made interpretation harder by using a new expression, "undue interference". See the definition at 115(4) above - interference is not undue unless it is also harmful! Harmful being defined as "degrades, obstructs or repeatedly interrupts anything which is being broadcast or otherwise transmitted".

    I don't think radio engneers drafted this Act of Parliament! In fact, Acts and other legislation are drafted by Parliamentary Draftsmen, lawyers employed by the Government to draft legislation.

    PART 3

    REGULATION OF APPARATUS


    Undue interference

    54 Regulations about use and sale etc of apparatus

    (1) OFCOM may make regulations prescribing the requirements to be complied with in the case of apparatus specified in the regulations, if the apparatus is to be used.

    (2) OFCOM may make regulations prescribing the requirements to be complied with in the case of apparatus specified in the regulations, if the apparatus is to be—

    (a) sold otherwise than for export,
    (b) offered or advertised for sale otherwise than for export, or
    (c) let on hire, or offered or advertised for letting on hire,
    by a person who manufactures, assembles or imports such apparatus in the course of business.

    (3) The requirements prescribed under subsection (1) or (2) are to be such
    requirements as OFCOM think fit for the purpose of ensuring that the use of the apparatus does not cause undue interference with wireless telegraphy.

    (4) In particular, the requirements may include—

    (a) requirements as to the maximum intensity of electromagnetic energy of specified frequencies that may be radiated in any direction from the
    apparatus while it is being used;
    (b) in the case of apparatus the power for which is supplied from electric
    lines, requirements as to the maximum electromagnetic energy of
    specified frequencies that may be injected into those lines by the
    apparatus.


    (5) The apparatus which may be specified in the regulations under subsection (1) or (2) is apparatus which generates, or is designed to generate, or is liable to generate fortuitously, electromagnetic energy at frequencies not exceeding 3,000 gigahertz.

    (6) In a case where apparatus does not comply with the requirements applicable to it under regulations made under subsection (1) or (2), a person does not act unlawfully only because—

    (a) he uses the apparatus, or
    (b) he sells it, or offers or advertises it for sale, or lets it on hire or offers or advertises it for letting on hire.

    But the non-compliance is a ground for the giving of a notice under section 55 or 56.

    (7) The approval of the Secretary of State is required for the making by OFCOM of regulations under this section.

    (8) A statutory instrument containing regulations made by OFCOM under this
    section is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.


    55 Enforcement: use of apparatus

    (1) This section applies where, in the opinion of OFCOM—

    (a) apparatus does not comply with the requirements applicable to it
    under regulations made under section 54(1); and
    (b) the first or second condition is satisfied in relation to the apparatus.

    (2) The first condition is that the use of the apparatus is likely to cause undue interference with wireless telegraphy used—

    (a) for the purposes of a safety of life service; or
    (b) for a purpose on which the safety of a person, or of a ship, aircraft or
    vehicle, may depend

    (3) The second condition is that—

    (a) the use of the apparatus is likely to cause undue interference with
    wireless telegraphy other than wireless telegraphy falling within
    subsection (2);
    (b) the use of the apparatus in fact has caused, or is causing, such
    interference; and
    (c) the case is one where OFCOM consider that all reasonable steps to
    minimise interference have been taken in relation to the wireless
    telegraphy station or wireless telegraphy apparatus receiving the
    telegraphy interfered with.


    Where does this take us? In section 54(1) OFCOM is given the right, if they wish (note use of the word "may" where the Radio Regulations impose a duty) to specify technical standards for equipment they name. Then, if those standards are not met, they have the right to enforce provided by section 55. So long as interference may be caused or is being caused and OFCOM consider that all reasonable steps to minimise interference have been taken by the station suffering the interference.

    Despite the requirement on the UK imposed by the Radio Regulations, the only equipment named under section 54(1) has been:

    Fluorescent Lighting
    Household Appliances, Portable Tools Etc.
    Radio-Frequency Heating Apparatus
    Citizens’ Band Radio
    Electro-Medical Apparatus
    Ignition Apparatus

    The Government has simply not complied with the Radio Regulations which it, itself, agreed so to do.

    OFCOM knew (I do not speculate for how long) that the powers they had given themselves under section 54 were inadequate. That is why they proposed a new Regulation under section 54 and consulted on it in early 2015. The consultation document is here

    http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/bi...summary/WTA_SI_2015_Consultation_Document.pdf

    the draft Regulations are here:

    http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/wta-notice-propossals/annexes/Annex6.pdf

    and the excellent RSGB response is here:

    http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/wta-notice-propossals/responses/RSGB.pdf

    The main OFCOM page for the consultation is here:

    http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/undueinterference/

    So the thing we are all waiting for is the coming into force of The Wireless Telegraphy (Control of Interference from Apparatus) Regulations 2015 which is available in draft form at the Annex6 web address above.


    Once again, enough for now. There is still the EMC Directive to look at, our EMC Regulations, and various other things.

    In terms of our discussions with OFCOM through the EMCC, I believe that we should stress as much as possible the simple meaning of the Radio Regulations, and that UK amateurs do suffer harmful interference within the meaning of the Radio Regulations and the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 from which we should be protected as a service equal to others under the Radio Regulations.

    The subjective list of experiences evidencing harmful interference is excellent - in all cases the examples demonstrate interference which "degrades, obstructs, or repeatedly interrupts a radiocommunication service".
    G8HGN and Kev like this.
  7. G3YRZ

    G3YRZ Member

    If you are not busy in the ARRL International DX Contest this weekend (I'm giving that one a miss this year!) here is the next thrilling episode...

    Time for European law. I make no comment about the possible impact of whatever the country says in June.

    EUROPEAN LAW

    This is the European Commission page about the EMC Directive:

    http://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/electrical-engineering/emc-directive/index_en.htm?

    The short statement of the aim of the Directive looks wonderful:

    "The Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Directive 2004/108/EC ensures that electrical and electronic equipment does not generate, or is not affected by, electromagnetic disturbance.

    The EMC Directive limits electromagnetic emissions from equipment in order to ensure that, when used as intended, such equipment does not disturb radio and telecommunication, as well as other equipment. The Directive also governs the immunity of such equipment to interference and seeks to ensure that this equipment is not disturbed by radio emissions, when used as intended."

    Once again, the simple statement of intent has not worked out in practice, has it?

    What is a European Union Directive? It is the European Community equivalent of an Act of Parliament with an important difference. Member states are required to implement a Directive, but it is left to the individual states to decide how to achieve the result required by the Directive. In law, a Directive can have direct effect in member states - it can be enforced if the state concerned has not properly implemented it.

    Directive 2004/108/EC is replaced in April 2016 by a later version. However the requirements are pretty much the same. Here is the text of the new Directive 2014/30/EU :

    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:32014L0030&from=EN

    It is rather rambling. However, if you wish to look at it ignore at first the initial paragraphs numbered 1 to 50 in brackets. These are "recitals" commencing with the word "Whereas" before the 50 paragraphs. These set the scene and the background and are not themselves of real legal effect.

    Note though recital (4):

    (4

    Member States should be responsible for ensuring that radiocommunications, including radio broadcast reception and the amateur radio service operating in accordance with International Telecommunication Union (ITU) radio regulations, electrical supply networks and telecommunications networks, as well as equipment connected thereto, are protected against electromagnetic disturbance.

    Scroll down to the Directive itself, which starts:

    "CHAPTER 1

    GENERAL PROVISIONS

    Article 1

    Subject matter

    This Directive regulates the electromagnetic compatibility of equipment. It aims to ensure the functioning of the internal market by requiring equipment to comply with an adequate level of electromagnetic compatibility."

    Trying to keep this note as short as I can, the important article is this:

    Article 6

    Essential requirements

    The equipment shall meet the essential requirements set out in Annex I.

    And Annex I sets out:

    ANNEX I

    ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENTS

    1. General requirements

    Equipment shall be so designed and manufactured, having regard to the state of the art, as to ensure that:

    (a)

    the electromagnetic disturbance generated does not exceed the level above which radio and telecommunications equipment or other equipment cannot operate as intended;

    (b)

    it has a level of immunity to the electromagnetic disturbance to be expected in its intended use which allows it to operate without unacceptable degradation of its intended use.

    2. Specific requirements for fixed installations

    Installation and intended use of components

    A fixed installation shall be installed applying good engineering practices and respecting the information on the intended use of its components, with a view to meeting the essential requirements set out in point 1.

    This still looks wonderful. So why do we have so many problems, if the UK complied with the Radio Regulations and this EC Directive and its predecessor?

    The problem is in the way the European Commission drafted the Directive as to compliance. How were manufacturers to prove compliance with the Essential Requirements? Oh dear. See Article 7, and in another sphere outside EMC remember the recent Volkswagen emission problems....


    CHAPTER 2

    OBLIGATIONS OF ECONOMIC OPERATORS

    Article 7

    Obligations of manufacturers

    1. When placing their apparatus on the market, manufacturers shall ensure that they have been designed and manufactured in accordance with the essential requirements set out in Annex I.

    2. Manufacturers shall draw up the technical documentation referred to in Annex II or Annex III and carry out the relevant conformity assessment procedure referred to in Article 14 or have it carried out.

    Where compliance of apparatus with the applicable requirements has been demonstrated by that procedure, manufacturers shall draw up an EU declaration of conformity and affix the CE marking.



    This is the start of Article 7, which together with following Articles sets out much more about verification. But simply putting on a CE stamp carries a presumption that the equipment complies and is EMC compatible within the meaning of the Directive!

    How is there oversight and enforcement? Article 40 pretty much sums it up:


    Article 40

    Formal non-compliance

    1. Without prejudice to Article 38, where a Member State makes one of the following findings, it shall require the relevant economic operator to put an end to the non-compliance concerned:

    (a)

    the CE marking has been affixed in violation of Article 30 of Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 or of Article 17 of this Directive;

    (b)

    the CE marking has not been affixed;

    (c)

    the EU declaration of conformity has not been drawn up;

    (d)

    the EU declaration of conformity has not been drawn up correctly;

    (e)

    technical documentation is either not available or not complete;

    (f)

    the information referred to in Article 7(6) or Article 9(3) is absent, false or incomplete;

    (g)

    any other administrative requirement provided for in Article 7 or Article 9 is not fulfilled.

    2. Where the non-compliance referred to in paragraph 1 persists, the Member State concerned shall take all appropriate measures to restrict or prohibit the apparatus being made available on the market or ensure that it is recalled or withdrawn from the market.



    So according to the Directive, a Member State (ie the UK) has power to make findings and have the matter remedied. And this is up to the Member State to do. Is the UK doing it? Is there really no power to look behind, for instance, gross QRM and breach of the Radio Regulations by CFLs or LED lighting? Because the Directive says they can. The Radio Regulations say they must.



    Next time - the UK EMC Regulations
    G8HGN likes this.
  8. M0JAV

    M0JAV Moderator

    Ofcom have today issued their Decision to make the Wireless Telegraphy (Control of Interference from Apparatus) Regulations 2016.


    Decision to make the Wireless Telegraphy (Control of Interference from Apparatus) Regulations 2016

    This is actual link in case you have difficulties copy and paste below to web browser
    http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/co...mail&utm_campaign=undueinterference-statement

    This follows on from their consultation in January 2015.

    They unfortunately ignored our requests to take into account fixed installations and wired connections their argument
    "Widening the definition of“apparatus”to include cables,wires and other passive components would therefore go beyond apparatus which generates, or is designed to generate or is liable to generate electromagnetic energy. We consider that the definition of “apparatus” is adequate and should not be widened."

    We will prepare and publish a detailed response to these new regulations.

    They will allow enforcement against apparatus in use which develops faults after being put into service and apparatus not used as intended, or not properly maintained. the expected wording is
    Apparatus
    4. The requirement set out at regulation 5, for the purposes of section 54(1) of the Wireless

    Telegraphy Act 2006, applies in the case of apparatus which—

    1. (a) is in use after it has been placed on the Community market or put into service in the Community;

    2. (b) cannot be withdrawn from the Community market, in accordance with the provisions of the EMC Directive or the Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations 2006; and

    3. (c) is improperly— (i) installed;

      (ii) assembled;
      (iii) maintained;
      (iv) functioning due to degradation, deterioration, modification, or damage; or

      (v) used for a purpose other than its intended purpose.
    Requirement

    5. The requirement is that apparatus set out in regulation 4, when in use, must operate in such a way that the maximum intensity of electromagnetic disturbance generated shall not exceed the level permissible under the requirements of the EMC Directive, when it was placed on the Community market or put into service in the Community.

    Please let us know your views on these changes
    John Rogers M0JAV
    Chairman RSGB EMC Committee.

    http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/undueinterference/statement/?utm_source=updates&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=undueinterference-statement

    T
    he actual directive is given at
    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2016/426/made
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2016
  9. Martin G0HDB

    Martin G0HDB New Member

    Hello John, many thanks for your posting about today's publication of the Ofcom 'Decision' document. I was about to post the link to the document but you've beaten me to it!

    I've had a quick look through the Decision document and like you am very disappointed that Ofcom have chosen to exclude cabling that comprises a part of an installed system from the scope of the new Regulations; this will presumably mean that any RFI emanating from cabling carrying VDSL or PLT signals, or from cabling within or associated with a solar PV system, as opposed to RFI coming directly from items of "apparatus" such as VDSL or PLT modems or optimisers/inverters in a solar PV system, won't be covered by the new Regulations.

    Given this omission from the scope of the Regulations it's difficult to see how they will benefit anyone who, for example, is suffering from high levels of interference caused by unintended RF emanations from a phoneline carrying a VDSL signal, or from the interconnecting cables within a solar PV system.

    It's also not clear (to me) how, or even if, an Ofcom investigator would be able to identify whether RFI is emanating directly from a specific item of apparatus within an installed system, or from the cabling associated with the installation. It seems to me that unless it could be shown beyond all doubt that the RFI is coming directly from an item of apparatus within an installation rather than from the cabling then Ofcom would be able to walk away from a case of interference on the grounds that RFI emanating from cabling isn't covered by the Regulations - this would be most unsatisfactory and not at all helpful to us.

    I hope you find these comments useful,

    73
    --
    Martin G0HDB
    G8HGN and Kev like this.
  10. M0JAV

    M0JAV Moderator

    Martin
    We would have preferred that cabling be specifically included however this has not happened. Fortunately it is not specifically excluded either.

    Ofcom define apparatus as
    1. “( ) apparatus which generates, or is designed to generate, or is liable to generate fortuitously, electromagnetic energy at frequencies not exceeding 3,000 gigahertz.”

      When connected to telephone lines in service the apparatus (e.g. VDSL DSLAM) either operates as intended in which case it has to meet the EMC Directive or it does not operate as intended in which case the new regs allow enforcement.

      We can argue if the interference is not present when the apparatus is used without being connected to telephone line but is present when connected then it must be improperly installed or improperly functioning.

      Alternatively
      The common mode radiation is "generated fortuitously" by crosstalk in the cables. So I would argue the cable is apparatus under their definition, or perhaps that the cables are improperly functioning "due to degradation, deterioration, modification, or damage"

      I can see some interesting debates

      John Rogers
      Chairman RSGB EMCC
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2016
  11. Kev

    Kev Member

    Hi John,

    Well done for posting all this up,

    I cannot comment on this forum what I really want to say, so it's best I say nothing..

    Regards

    Kev.. 2E0WCK..
  12. Martin G0HDB

    Martin G0HDB New Member

    Hi again John, many thanks for your response to my posting.

    Yes, it will certainly be interesting to see just how amenable Ofcom are to applying the new Regs in situations where there is no observable interference from an apparatus when it's not connected to a phone line or, for example, to the output of a solar PV panel, but there is RFI when the apparatus is connected-up. I would concur entirely with your points of argument but Ofcom might not!

    We live in interesting times... :)

    Many thanks for all your efforts, and also those of your colleagues (David etc) on the EMCC.

    --
    Martin G0HDB
    Kev likes this.
  13. G8HGN

    G8HGN New Member

    It seems that this consultation and the new legislation was a complete waste of time and resources, seeing as Ofcom have decided to completely ignore its use in practice in the intervening period since it was enacted.

    The RSGB needs to take Ofcom to court for not executing the powers it has to deal with the problems. Lack of resources is not an excuse.

    If you or I decided we didn't want to do something we were legally bound to, we'd end up in court and suffer the consequences.

    I'm sure there's a sympathetic lawyer out there that would take a case on, of this nature, with no fees. It's happened many times in other cases.

    Time to stop pussyfooting around and take action. The publicity alone would be worth it.

    73

    Bob G8HGN
    Kev likes this.
  14. M0JAV

    M0JAV Moderator

    Bob
    In order to take Ofcom to court we would need to prove there was a staturory power they had not exercised, we have yet to find evidence of this. When we have tackled them on this their response is
    "Our duty is to provide advice and assistance. We do not have a duty to enforce and we do not guarantee that interference will not occur."

    Ofcom have helped with some cases where they felt there was Harmful Interference from equipment that they had taken powers to enforce against. They have not enforced against any of these but in most cases where problems were identified then Ofcom managed to get them resolved without resorting to enforcement powers.

    Unfortunately for most of the cases causing us real problems at the moment like wind farms and VDSL broadband they have not taken the necessary powers for enforcement and so can do little more than provide advice and assistance which is often to speak to RSGB EMCC committee as they can provide help to you in these cases.
    I have copied the latest response we have from Ofcom to our repeated requests for clarification on these issues. This was received in November 2016 and has been previously published in full on our website.

    WHAT IS NEEDED TO GET OFCOM TO ENFORCE AGAINST SERIOUS INTERFERENCE TO AMATEUR RADIO.

    Ofcom published a statement on 24 March 2016 ‘Decision to make the Wireless Telegraphy (Control of Interference from Apparatus) Regulations 2016’ in which we address this issue at section 3 ‘The legislative setting’.

    For your convenience I have copied the following extract:

    Ofcom has enforcement powers in relation to undue interference. These are set out in primary legislation. In particular, section 55 of the Act provides for the giving of notices by Ofcom prohibiting the use of apparatus (“enforcement notice”). However in order to avail of this existing power to serve these notices, regulations must first be made under section 54 setting requirements to be complied with.

    3.2 Enforcement notices may be given in the limited circumstances set out in the Act. These circumstances are where, in the opinion of Ofcom: 3.2.1 apparatus does not comply with the requirements applicable to it under regulations made under section 54(1); and

    3.2.2 either the first or the second condition below is satisfied.

    3.3 The first condition is that the use of the apparatus is likely to cause undue interference with wireless telegraphy used – 3.3.1 for the purposes of a safety of life service; or

    3.3.2 for a purpose on which the safety of a person, or of a ship, aircraft or vehicle may depend.

    3.4 The second condition is that- 3.4.1 the use of the apparatus is likely to cause undue interference with wireless telegraphy other than wireless telegraphy falling within the first condition;

    3.4.2 the use of the apparatus in fact has caused, or is causing, such interference; and

    3.4.3 the case is one where Ofcom consider that all reasonable steps to minimise interference have been taken in relation to the wireless telegraphy station or wireless telegraphy apparatus receiving the interference.

    The principles of enforcement

    Ofcom strives to ensure our interventions will be evidence-based, proportionate, consistent, accountable and transparent in both deliberation and outcome. These principles apply both to enforcement cases and to how we manage enforcement activities as a whole.

    Targeting

    Targeting involves relating enforcement action to the risks. Our resources are not infinite, and we are therefore more likely to focus on more serious circumstances. It is neither possible, nor necessary for the purposes of the protecting and managing the radio spectrum, to investigate all issues of interference or non-compliance.

    In selecting which complaints, or reports of, to investigate and in deciding the level of resources to be used, Ofcom will take into account the following:

    • The severity and scale of any potential or actual harm;

    • The seriousness of any potential breach of the law;



    • The practicality of achieving results;

    • The wider implications of the event, including whether there is serious public concern.

    Consistency

    Consistency of approach does not mean uniformity. It means taking a similar approach in similar circumstances to achieve similar ends.

    Transparency

    Transparency includes helping stakeholders to understand what is expected of them and what they should expect from Ofcom.

    Accountability

    Ofcom is accountable for our actions. We report annually to Parliament and we publish information about our enforcement activities.

    Ofcom will exercise discretion in deciding whether incidents or complaints should be investigated.

    Duties and functions

    The Communications Act 2003 requires that Ofcom secures the optimal use for wireless telegraphy of the electro-magnetic spectrum. In performing its duties, Ofcom must have regard to the different needs and interests of all persons who may wish to make use of the electro-magnetic spectrum. Ofcom must also have regard in performing its duties to the desirability of preventing crime and disorder.

    The Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 makes it a general function of Ofcom to give advice, provide services and maintain records as we consider appropriate for facilitating or managing the use of the spectrum. Ofcom may also carry out research. Ofcom has a function of providing advice and assistance to persons complaining of interference.

    In summary - Our duty is to provide advice and assistance. We do not have a duty to enforce and we do not guarantee that interference will not occur. When deciding whether to investigate or to take enforcement action we are required act reasonably and responsibly and maximise the use of resources and do so in a proportionate, accountable, transparent and consistent way. We treat each case on its merits.


    John Rogers M0JAV
  15. G8HGN

    G8HGN New Member

    Hi John,

    Maybe I'm missing something, but how can you say "In order to take Ofcom to court we would need to prove there was a statutory power they had not exercised, we have yet to find evidence of this"? They clearly haven't in many cases that have been discussed on the forums. I've had a case rumbling on for years, which they could have acted on. The offending TV is still in place. I've not had any communication from Ofcom to say that the case is closed. They have the powers and haven't acted.

    "Our duty is to provide advice and assistance. We do not have a duty to enforce and we do not guarantee that interference will not occur." I find that statement perplexing, given that's what they were, presumably, set up for. Otherwise, what is their purpose?

    I did read their reply in RadCom at the time, and thought then and still do, that Ofcom is in dereliction of its statutory duties. Their reply is condescending.

    Just because they decided not to uphold the law and publish what they see as their duties, presumably due to lack of resourcing, doesn't mean to say they are right and we have to accept that. That's what needs to be challenged.

    Are they, in law, allowed to pick and choose what parts of the legislation they enforce. Once that's established, we can then deal with the results.

    It seems we've accepted their version of the law and in so doing lost all hope of ever getting satisfaction. How did we ever allow this situation to come about?

    I don't expect every frequency we use to be interference free 24/7, but when major polluters such as PLT, solar panels, and the like, impact on our bands I expect Ofcom to act promptly. This now seems extremely unlikely.

    73

    Bob Harrison G8HGN
  16. M0JAV

    M0JAV Moderator

    Bob
    Please understand that we on the EMC committee have been trying to get them to enforce against a number of serious RFI sources without success.

    Ofcom's purpose is stated by them on their website I quote
    "Ofcom is the communications regulator in the UK. We regulate the TV, radio and video-on-demand sectors, fixed-line telecoms (phones), mobiles and postal services, plus the airwaves over which wireless devices operate.

    We make sure that people in the UK get the best from their communications services and are protected from scams and sharp practices, while ensuring that competition can thrive.

    We operate under a number of Acts of Parliament, including in particular the Communications Act 2003. We must act within the powers and duties set for it by Parliament in legislation.

    The Communications Act says that Ofcom’s principal duty is to further the interests of citizens and of consumers, where appropriate by promoting competition. Meeting this duty is at the heart of everything we do.

    Accountable to Parliament, we set and enforce regulatory rules for the sectors for which we have responsibility. We also have powers to enforce competition law in those sectors, alongside the Competition and Markets Authority."
    For radio communication the Radio Regulations apply. Their duties under that act are what we questioned and they clarified in my post above.

    The sources you mention PLT, solar panels, VDSL are not covered by Radio Regulations as no powers have been taken as they are wired not wireless systems.

    They are covered by the EMC directive not to prevent other equipment from operating as intended. Another problem is that the multitude of standards that equipment has to adhere to contain no limits for HF radiated emissions below 30MHz they only limit conducted emissions at those frequencies.

    There advice on electromagnetic disturbance to amateur radio is
    "Electromagnetic disturbances, also referred to as electromagnetic emissions, are normally considered to be unwanted emissions in the radio frequency spectrum. They can occur naturally or be generated artificially.

    An electromagnetic disturbance may degrade the performance of or even stop radio communications apparatus from functioning as intended.

    Apparatus placed on the market or put into service should be designed to function compatibly within the environment in which it is intended to be used. This is called electromagnetic compatibility.

    Apparatus should not emit excessive levels of electromagnetic disturbance and it should be suitably immune from external sources of electromagnetic disturbance.

    If your station or apparatus is affected by an electromagnetic disturbance from an external source, then you need to ensure that your apparatus is suitably immune."


    If you or anyone else can point me at a statutory regulation they are not carrying out we will look into it.

    John Rogers M0JAV
    Last edited: May 9, 2018
  17. G8HGN

    G8HGN New Member

    John,

    I'm sure you and your team, and the people on the ground at Ofcom, are trying to their best. But it's clearly not going to get anywhere under the present regime within Ofcom.

    However, I find it incredulous that Ofcom has been allowed to write its own script as to how they deal with matters pertaining to the spectrum. Probably for resourcing reasons and definitely for commercial reasons. The biggest polluters are written out of the rules, so they are exempt from enforcement action, by Ofcom.

    Why do we have all these "regulations" if there is no body to enforce them Effectively we have no enforcement body for the EMC directive, which appears to be nothing more than a "code of conduct" rather than law, and has Ofcom become in essence a glorified administrative body.

    If this is the case then rather than bang our heads against a brick wall, using up our meagre resources, should we not be highlighting this change of emphasis regarding Ofcom and start lobbying parliament to get them to act and or change the emphasis. At least bring it to the attention of a wider audience.

    Time to make some noise and go public.

    Bob Harrison G8HGN
  18. Ken G3SDW

    Ken G3SDW Moderator

    Time to bang your Drum then Bob.
  19. G8HGN

    G8HGN New Member

    RSGB needs to set the tempo, then we can all join in Ken.

    Despite all your effort, we've got nowhere.

    The strategy needs to change, as it's clearly not working.

    Bob G8HGN
  20. Ken G3SDW

    Ken G3SDW Moderator

    All i can say Bob is come and sit in the chair.

    Out of all the sections of the RSGB and as ia ma sure you know that the majority are voluntary then the EMCC is the most difficult to be in, with constant things to do 24/7.

    If you feel that you can achieve what you are asking for then join us, you then can advertise your feelings to see if you can get a response.

    You have no idea what goes on behind the scenes and if you did then you would understand our position, we do not sit here drinking tea and just chatting.

    Think about it and come and join us if you feel that you can have some input to the RFI problems affecting our great hobby today.

Share This Page