Three-quarters of EU radio equipment is non-compliant

Self-certification works...for some


It may have been self-certified as compliant, but 76 per cent of radio equipment tested in 2003 failed to come up to EU spec. The figure rose to 88 per cent in 2006 - not surprisingly, a serious rethink of the legislation is imminent.

Since the introduction of the Radio & Telecommunications Terminal Equipment (R&TTE) directive in 2000 manufacturers have had the option to self-certify their products. But when a market surveillance campaign in 2003 checked up on 1,900 certified bits of kit, it found the majority weren’t up to scratch.

Apparently, at that time most of the failures were "administrative" - wrong labels on the packaging and the like - but a further sample of 150 bits of kit, carried out around 2006, found that 88 per cent of devices tested failed for technical reasons, reports PolicyTracker.

Prior to the R&TTE devices had to be certified for connection to any communications network - readers with long memories might remember the red circles and green triangles that could double the price of a modem. But since the directive came into force in 2000, manufacturers have the option to self-certify, as long as they lodge notifications with the various regional regulators.

So the conformance burden becomes a matter of enforcement, rather than certification, and is reliant on regional regulators to demand the withdrawal of dodgy kit, as long as someone notices.

According to the EC's Assessment and Market Surveillance Committee, who are responsible for the R&TTE, there's no problem with high-tech kit, the latest technology isn't price-sensitive so decent components are used. The problems come with cheap toy cars and walkie-talkies, or remotely-controlled light switches - things that have exploded in popularity over the last few years.

Testing every device would be very expensive, so self-certification has made that growth possible. But the R&TTE expected market forces to quickly identify substandard kit leading to complaints and swift withdrawal - in reality, a remote-control car might be spitting out interference across the band while still operating to the satisfaction of the buyer.

It's a problem that needs addressing, especially if the EU's plans for greater Common Use of Spectrum are adopted, as licence holders could find themselves sharing spectrum with devices self-certified by an unknown factory somewhere in the far east.

Improving traceability will certainly form part of the new proposals, perhaps with an identity number stamped on every product, so regulators can at least find someone to blame - something which isn't always easy today.

As Thomas Ewers, chairman of the CEPT Electronic Communications Committee, puts it: “If we expect in the future, incumbent spectrum users to agree to additional sharing based on cognitive or software defined, or other mitigation techniques... it is important to have the assurance that all the stakeholders have the confidence in the system and the system is working.”

The Assessment and Market Surveillance Committee is preparing a report on the progress of the R&TTE at the moment, with a view to publication in the autumn - that should lay out the options and could lead to concrete proposals next year. Interference in the cheaper bands isn't much of a problem yet, but it will be. So we could have a rare example of legislation preceding the problems it's designed to solve. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading
  • American diplomats' iPhones reportedly compromised by NSO Group intrusion software

    Reuters claims nine State Department employees outside the US had their devices hacked

    The Apple iPhones of at least nine US State Department officials were compromised by an unidentified entity using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

    NSO Group in an email to The Register said it has blocked an unnamed customers' access to its system upon receiving an inquiry about the incident but has yet to confirm whether its software was involved.

    "Once the inquiry was received, and before any investigation under our compliance policy, we have decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations," an NSO spokesperson told The Register in an email. "To this point, we haven’t received any information nor the phone numbers, nor any indication that NSO’s tools were used in this case."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021